Reflections on a Particularly Distracted Day

Today was a whirlwind of inefficiency.  It’s 5 p.m. and I’m exhausted. There is paperwork everywhere. I must do an autopsy on today’s productivity.  Here are the issues I see and, so I don’t get depressed listing out my problems without possible solutions, I’ve add those, too…

Problem: I didn’t start out with a focus for my day.

When I simply wake up with the goal of doing all the things all at once, I fail. Not only do I fail, but it’s a sort of across-the-board failure that leaves me wanting to hide under my desk. I start and stop many different projects. I get into what I call my “little spinny place” and I whirl around in circles until I’m exhausted. I pay attention to urgent tasks and forget all sense of purpose to my day. It’s really an awful place to be.


What To Do When Your Time Management Techniques Fall Apart

What To Do When Your Time Management Techniques Fall Apart

Have you ever felt crazed by all the stuff you have to do?

Is the stuff you have to do managing you?

Do you have so much stuff to do that you want to go home and hide not only under the covers but under the mattress?

If so, maybe you are managing the wrong thing. I recently read a Harvard Business Review article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy titled Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.  I talk to people about time management nearly every day, so this article really hit home with me.

Here a few pointers I derived from the article:

  • Working longer hours is not time management.
  • Time is a fixed resource. Although you can work longer hours if you like, you will eventually run out of time.
  • Energy, however, is renewable. Pay attention to the four main sources of energy in humans — body, emotions, mind, and spirit — and reap the rewards.

“Yeh, right!” you may say. “But I’m too busy for that!”

“But there are payoffs,” I’ll argue. “Read about the Wachovia study that Schwartz and McCarthy refer to in their article if you need more convincing. I’ve cited the source below so you can access the article. You’ll find out that you actually cannot afford NOT to renew your energy!

If you just want the bullet points, stick with me. I’ve got you covered: (more…)

Productivity amidst Chaos: Simplifying Your Approach for the Purposes of Time Management and Sanity

I’ve got a stack of papers on my desk that just toppled over because the pile got a bit too high. It’s like a tower ready to collapse, ominously leaning one off to the side. I’ve got a million things to do today and all of them are important. I feel scattered. I’m exhausted, and the coffee I drank in hopes of waking me up only served to give me a case of the jitters. It’s only 11 a.m. and I am wondering just exactly how I am going to get through the day.

If anything in the above paragraph sounds familiar, read on. I’m talking myself off a ledge here with a few techniques that have worked for me in the past. Come along on my journey towards a simpler, easier, more productive day!
There are three things I can do today to simplify my approach and get more done: 1) Obey the Rule of Three, 2) Can the Perfectionism; and 3) Eliminate Electronic Distractions. Allow me to explain…

Obey the Rule of Three
I have a business coach friend who admonishes me constantly because I try to do too much all at once. I could go into great depth about the history of why I do this (societal approval, family patterns, and overall neuroses, to name a few) but really, who has time for that? My friend’s Rule of Three plays out like this:
You only get to pick three things you are going to work on right now. If you want to get even simpler and narrow it down to one, that’s great. But just pick three things and make them your focus.
I can hear protesting voices even as I write.
“SURE!” you may be saying. “That’s great for you, honey, but I have more than THREE THINGS to do today!”

I hear you. I still believe in the rule of three, however, for this reason: Maybe you’re different, but personally, there is no way I can do ten things at once. Actually, I can’t even do THREE things at a time. I can, however, work in chunks of time. In one chunk of time, I work on one thing. In the next bit of time, I work on the next thing. And so on.
I feel a little bit calmer when I do this and I am calmer, I tend to produce higher quality work. Would you like to this, too? If so, do this — take a breath, focus, and decide what the next hour will look like. What is one specific task you can do to advance on one specific project?