Remember a day recently, when you felt completely overwhelmed? Maybe it started out well, but as you looked over your work to be done, wow. There’s so MUCH on your list that you’d rather walk out the door and leave it behind. “It’s all too much,” as Peter Walsh has said about our Things.
I’ll make this quick. You might want to save this somewhere safe, if you’re feeling good about today, but have a tendency to go to the overwhelm place sometimes.
6 Ways to Quickly Get Your Day under Control
- Shut off technology – all notifications – for 30 minutes. No sound. No vibrate. Shut it off and focus on something. We are so conditioned to be “on” all the time that we forget how powerful our focus can be when the phone, email, text and social media aren’t beeping at us constantly. They break your train of thought constantly, taking you off track. It’s hard to switch gears again for many people. So try this and notice how it feels and how productive you are. And then decide to continue or wait to take another break later on. Hopefully, you might get addicted to focus!
- Hide somewhere. Pick up some work – don’t take more than few minutes to decide – and go hide in a conference room, empty office, library or somewhere nobody will expect to see you. Sign yourself out to a meeting with yourself. Go quietly and do your work.
- Tie up something that’s almost done. This is my personal “go to” strategy. Look at the big things on your list. What’s left for you to say that you’ve finished up a step, or a full project? Do that. Do not grab a bunch of small issues and get them done. While your list is shorter, the big things you’re truly concerned about will have had no attention. Very tempting, I know. Go with the big rocks. The little stuff can wait and it’s easier to slide into slivers of your time.
- Take a break. Your mind may be burn out or tired from whatever you’ve been working on. Take a short break, a walk, or do something very different. Changing your scenery can give you a renewed sense of perspective on what to tackle next and how.
- Defer. Delay. Delete. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Look through your list and use the 3D’s to triage your list. You may have too much on it. You may have old tasks, which, when you listen to your subconscious, you realize you’re not ever tackling. Good ideas don’t have to stay on your list just because they’re good ideas. Which project can you put on hold, so you can finish up another one and keep one “on deck?” Can you defer or delegate to someone else? Either pieces of a project, so you can get it finished. Oran entire project, which, when you think about it, may not need 100% of your expertise. Share the knowledge. Mentor someone instead.
- Write down ONE task on a Post it note. Write. Do. Repeat. This is about making the hard decision of which one task you truly need to complete, and then brush away all other distractions. Do this not for the whole day, but enough time to get yourself to the next big chunk of work on the project. You don’t have to finish something entirely but moving it to its next stage will do you a world of good. “Done for now.”
For #6, here is my latest way to keep track of the “must do before I leave” priorities. This sits right in front of my computer monitor and never gets covered up ! It’s a whole week across the top. I found it at Staples, in the store.
And yes, I occasionally need to change what I use to keep the big priorities visible, because otherwise, the tool – the notepad here – becomes part of the scenery.
Okay, so which one of the six will work for you? What are you thinking about as you read or reread this article?