Updated: Dec 2, 2019
It's Monday morning. I'm still tired from a weekend of unpacking and working on the house, but I drag myself out of bed and get to work. I start by making a to do list for the day and week, and identify priorities. As my list grows, my stress grows with it. There's so much to do!
By 9am, I'm zooming around trying to get anything and everything done. I'm multi-tasking and going about 90 miles an hour, and I keep this up for hours. Interruptions? Bring it on! Emails? I answer them as they come in! As I remember more things that need to get done, I bounce to them and finish them off...because why add them to the list when I can knock them out right now?
By the end of the day, I look back and even though I got a lot of things done, I feel like I haven't accomplished anything!
Can you relate?
Maybe there's a better way to tackle that to do list. Maybe hustling isn't the best way to get things done.
Maybe we need to just slow down and give our full attention to what we're doing in the moment.
I've been exploring this idea, and I have to tell you....it's been amazing. I'm not saying that everyone should take the steps I've taken to work on being more present and focused, but I today I want to share what's working for me, because it's had such an impact on the way I work.
Shut off the interruptions.
One of the first (and hardest) things I did was to turn off notifications. Which notifications? ALL of them!
Ok...I didn't go quite that far. But I'm not exaggerating that much...I went through my phone and turned off notifications for 99% of my apps. No more email alerts, no more sounds for text messages, no more social media pings....it's all off. Next, I went through my laptop and turned off desktop notifications for emails as well.
At first, I felt like I was missing out on EVERYTHING. I spent 3 months in the middle of a national park with no cell service, but even with that experience in my back pocket I felt out of touch and unreachable. What if something important happened?
Guess what? In the past 6 months....I haven't missed anything that was too important to wait until later.
Instead, I found that I had an easier time concentrating on what I was doing (writing blog posts, for example!). I stopped worrying about what I was missing, and established a schedule of when I would respond to emails each day, etc. It was actually very freeing to be disconnected from the "always reachable" culture our society has come to expect.
Put it on the list... and forget it.
I've always loved To Do lists. What can I say? I'm a planner gal through and through. But I found that even though I kept a list, if something occurred to me in the middle of the day, I would stop what I was doing and work on it. It made for some very distracted days, let me tell you!
So I've been working on changing that bad habit. Now, if I think of something that needs doing while I'm working, I add it to my to do list...and forget about it.
I have a very poor memory for tasks, and I think what was happening was that I didn't want to forget about this new thing...so I would do it right away to avoid that. But when I spend the day getting distracted by new tasks, my to do list looks exactly the same when I finish working. And that's incredibly discouraging.
Plus, much of my work is time-sensitive. So if I'm constantly interrupting myself to do non-priority work (just so I won't forget about it), I run the risk of missing deadlines. This is a constant source of stress for me...I'm definitely NOT one of those folks who enjoys working under pressure. I like to get things done well ahead of when they're due.
I've also created a pretty involved schedule for my ongoing / repeating tasks, so I wake up knowing exactly what needs to get done each day. Instead of wasting time deciding what I should get done each day, I can dive right in!
I schedule weekly tasks (Instagram posts, subscriber emails, etc) for a specific day each week, and then one day each month I set aside the entire day for "batching". I plan out the next month's tasks, and get as many of them done that day as I can. The more automation, the better for me!
This scheduling system also helps me when scheduling client calls, meetings, custom project work time in the studio, etc. because I already know what day(s) are busy, and which ones are more open for new work. Plus, it helps keep me motivated each day to do something other than sit on the couch and watch Parks & Rec haha....there's already a list of things to get done today!
Overall, I've come to agree with the March Hare when he says, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get". When I take time to slow down and focus on what I'm doing, my productivity goes through the roof. If you find yourself rushing through the day and getting pulled in a million directions, try out one (or all!) of these ideas and see if it helps.
I'd love to hear what you think! Comment below and let me know what you think about the idea of slowing down to get more done!
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