Missed deadlines, feeling unproductive, stressed, anxious & wondering where all the hours have gone.. sound familiar? Ever wonder how you can add more hours to the day so that you could get everything done?
Here’s a little tip from a client call I had last week.
The busy professional in question was feeling all of the above, and much more…
Waking up confident
“Today is the day I’m going to get back on track!” Then emergency #1, followed by an e-mail message that send you off on an unexpected tangent, followed by work you thought was going to take less time than it actually did, then a meeting, etc.. all of the sudden the day has gone off the rails and there’s no bringing it back on track!
Commitments not accomplished, working late again, no time for family & friends, and just can’t seem to get a grasp on what we can do to improve the situation. Tomorrow will hopefully be better! Right?!?!
What we witnessed
As we started to look at the activities he was trying to complete in one day, the following patterns became obvious;
- Started out the day with plan in his head, which quickly got altered by everyone else’s priorities
- Had a lot of to-do’s but no time blocked in his calendar to actually do them
- Was segmenting, or inter-mixing unlike-minded workloads throughout the day
- Didn’t plan “breaks” / Recovery Time in amongst his daily activities
We are human beings, and unlike computers, we can’t simply walk into the repair shop to add more memory or boost our processors. We need to understand our current work-habits & how they contrast with the laws of nature, such our biorhythmic clock. How we’re affected by outside influences, including personal matters which may be unsettling, etc.
Unless you have a plan of your own, you’ll surely become part of someone else’s plan!
What follows is a simplified version of the exercise we came up with, but basically “we walked” through a typical day and blocked out activities which were pre-programed and or uncompromisable. We nailed down a start & stop time that would work for him. It’s still a long-day, but it’s part of a recovery plan that over time will have him back down to an 8-9h work-day.
He needed to get a remote colleague up & running each morning, he had a mid-morning Daily Huddle with his team he couldn’t miss. He was tired of missing, or work through, lunches.
The realization that he really didn’t need to look at e-mail more than twice a day was a big victory, followed by 60-90 work-sprints (period of focused & uninterrupted time) to make significant headway on major tasks. Planned breaks (Recovery Zones) which had nothing to do with the work he was doing in order to temporarily rewire his brain patterns, bringing him back for the next work-sprint fresher & ready for high-performance.
The most valuable of all the tips, was the end-of-day recap & planning session. It allowed him to seal of the day by asking himself;
- How do I feel about my day?
- What worked & what didn’t work?
- What did I learn today that I can apply?
- What will be different about tomorrow?
Armed with this simple strategy he’s back in command of his destiny!
With this particular client, he’s already reporting significant improvement in just the first 24-48h, and like others, there will be more adjustments until he finds his own rhythm that works for him. Most importantly, the anxiety is gone, the feeling of being unproductive & missing commitments is gone! He’s now able to spend more quality with his family & friends.. with himself.. without the distraction of frustration that typically affects our mood.
What have you learned in this post? Anything or relevance that you can apply to your own life / work schedule? Do you have any tips of your own you can share?