What a fast-paced world we live in! From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, our to-do list only gets bigger and bigger. In the morning, we get the coffee started, wake up the kids, get them ready, make breakfast, and manage to get everyone out of the door on time. Arriving at work is not any easier either; it is impossible to get started as soon as you get there because everything else and everyone else needs your attention, other than your actual work. Say good morning to Sally, listen to Mary’s story about her cat trying to chase a squirrel all day long, go from meeting to meeting, and when 3 pm arrives, you are ready to start. But wait, now you only have 2 hours left! For real work! How frustrating and how accurate! I understand it is tough to get organized and do productive work. To feel accomplished somehow and get some deserved sleep without thinking about what didn’t get done. Sadly, we have accepted these routines. We have agreed to “go with the flow” instead of making conscious changes in our daily practices. Here is where I come and tell you: Get organized! Empower yourself and take the reigns of your life. Get work done and feel good about yourself.
Reactive Work: Go back to the start of your day at the office. Sally, Mary, meetings, email, and the list go on. These actions are known as reactive work. Now, what is reactive work? Reactive work is everything you do because somebody else requested it, and it has no actual impact on your goals for the day. Reactive work does not help you meet those deadlines and much less on feeling accomplished with your performance. The problem is that reactive work is one of the worst work habits you can have. The single best thing you can do is limit the amount of time you spend doing reactive work. So, stay away from your phone and email. Make it to the office early. Have some quiet time to concentrate and do productive work to achieve your daily goals. It would be helpful to block off a large chunk of time to do your job without interruptions. You must be the priority during this time. I know this doesn’t sound easy, but you must realize why it sounds complicated. Because you don’t want to disappoint people, you want to please them. We can be easily tempted to continually cater to others’ needs. However, it is better to disappoint a few people over responding to emails 2 hr later instead of disappointing yourself over lack of productivity, sacrificing your potential, and draining your energy in the process.
Getting started: Teaching your mind to “get started” is very difficult, mostly when your brain has been in reactive mode. Hence, the importance of teaching your brain when creativity must plague your thoughts. A rule of thumb is to have a start time and an end time in your workday. More or less a simple concept; generally, this is why offices and most jobs have some sort of schedule their employees follow, such as the regular 9-5. However, this can get harder if you work from home, own your business or have a creative venture. Set your start time and bring some “creative triggers”. It could be anything, a cup of coffee to your desk, a particular set of glasses you use, a specific coat, a certain scent, etc. It must become a ritual so that your brain eventually gets in the mood for work. The ” mood” will not come by itself; you have to set a stage for it. For instance, a well-known ritual is our morning routines: we get up, shower, get dressed, and go to work. It is a ritual that helps us “get in the mood” for work.
Procrastination: the norm in our brains. We all suffer from it, which is mostly an emotional issue. The problem with procrastination is that it lingers, and you have to fight it every single day. A simple way to combat this big problem is to train your brain to avoid it. It sounds complicated, but it is as simple as the word frequency. Frequency is the key to combat any kind of “mental laziness” precisely because frequency creates a ritual. Every time procrastination shows around the corner, tell your brain you will work on that specific project for just 5 min. This will be enough to kick it away. That is all you need. Once you get started, you won’t stop until you finish, right? When you stick to a routine and stay consistent, it will help you in many ways. It will help you keep your ideas fresh; you don’t have to go back and check what you did two weeks ago because you still remember the last time you worked on that project. Because your ideas are fresh, you are then more productive, making you much more creative. And because you are doing a fantastic job by being consistent, you have less pressure on your shoulders about deadlines and a never-ending to-do list. How amazing consistency is!
Getting organized and managing your time in an approachable and effective way is hard to do. There can be a lot of planning involved, and you may think it will just add to your daily tasks. There are also so many programs and time management systems out there to choose from that it is hard to figure out which one is the best for you. Nonetheless, you must remember your capacity is limited, and at some point, you will reach the end of it, making your life unmanageable. You are the priority. You must work on yourself first to be able to give to others in every sense of the word. Whatever time management program you choose, remember it should adapt to your lifestyle. It must help you instead of adding to your life. Finally, whatever method you choose, consistency is a fantastic thing and will deliver much-desired relief and happiness to your life. Stick to a plan and follow it!