The title speaks to how too many people are feeling. Whether you connect with each of these words or even just one or two, there must be a better way. Right? We are living in a world where convenience and ease is at our finger tips, however for some reason we are less able to accomplish everything we want to, need to and should. Why is that? A big reason is because with the information age has come an increased expectation that we should be reachable at any time. An expectation that we reply instantly. An unrealistic world where we seem to think that since we have access to more, it means we should have more and do more. However, most people have not adapted to this new world in productive way.
This week I offer you just a few of my best practices for filtering through the constant noise of the to do lists, emails, expectations and anything else weighing you down!
Years ago, in a workshop I was taught the “4 D’s” I still use these today to filter through the 120+ emails I receive each day. My goal remains the same; start every week with an empty inbox! On a really organized week- start every day that way!
Do It Now- if the email is a quick action that you can impact in under two minutes- do it now. You will save more time than leaving it for later and need to re-read it before acting on it.
Delegate It- if you receive an email that someone else needs to take on- delegate the email right away by forwarding it to them! Tip– put a task in your to do list to follow up on the due date you assign so you don’t forget about it.
Decide When- if you can not impact right away with the 2 fast actions above then decide when you will handle the email. Move it out of your inbox and into a task or to do list. If you leave it in the inbox you will likely read it multiple times (wasting time) and it will fall below the invisible line of email death (when it goes off the screen!)
Delete it- if there is no action needed from one of the above 3 actions… get rid of it! To a file or to the garbage can… get it off the screen
Turn Off the Auto-Pilot
Do you ever feel like you are running on autopilot? Alarm goes off, make breakfast, kids to school, go to work, pick up kids, get to dance/ soccer, come home, eat something easy, bath, bed. Do it all again. Sound familiar? If someone were to say to you, “You should ________________” The only thing that comes into your head is “when????”
Here’s the brutal truth and reality. Others who do these things all have the same amount of time in a day. They don’t have a magic pill of productivity. Why does it seem some people are more successful at it then you? Why can some people exercise 4 times a week? Or why can some people cook a home cooked meal each day? Why are some people’s houses spotless?
The reality is this; they have prioritized those things. When you run on autopilot you THINK you don’t have time, but if you sit back and reflect, there will be time available somewhere in your day. Something may need to be removed, some help may need to be asked for, some priorities revised. However, when you take the time to turn off the cruise control and evaluate you will be more likely to find something that works. You need to be a disrupter in your own life, like Uber was to the taxi industry.
Make THE List
Not just any list! THE list. This is the list of everything you have to do… everything! Here is the thing, your brain is filled with a million and one things. If you start working on a task, the next task is already popping into your head. This is like pouring gas on the poor productivity fire! If every time you sit down to be productive you distract yourself with your own thoughts how will you get things done?
This is also one of the reasons the world is losing its ability to listen. There is so much “noise” in our brains all the time that it is almost impossible to focus on the person standing right in front of us without your grocery list, or your next appt, or something you forgot to do for your kid’s school play uninvitingly showing up in the middle of the conversation.
You need to first get everything out of your head and onto paper, electronic task list, whatever you use.
Then you need to add to the list if something comes up.
From there you have the ability to organize, prioritize and take control of your actions. You can better make choices and decisions on how you will spend your time. You can better decide your actions for each day. You will own your time, it won’t be your schedule owning you.
Tip– I have a rule that people have to email me anything they ask me face to face. It may seem rude; however, I know myself. I will forget. If they email it to me, we both have documentation of the conversation and then I know for sure it makes it into the file of priorities. Trust me, it is way less polite to forget to follow through on something then to ask for a 2 second reminder!
Schedule ME Time
You can not be your best self, if you don’t take care of yourself. Simple. Think of you like a car. If you buy a car and never service it, what happens? It will start off running great! It will eventually start to breakdown. It will start to get sluggish, it will start to stall, it eventually stops running efficiently. You are the same way. You need to prioritize you. When you do this, you will be more productive, more efficient and will actually be able to give MORE to those around you. I know it is hard to think that by taking an hour per day to yourself you will actually be about 33% more productive, but you will.
I am challenging you to find an hour a day for you. That “me time” should include movement (exercise, dance, stretching, walking), nourishment (healthy, real food), and mindfulness (meditation, reading, quiet bath). Focus on one or all three each day and you will see how effective you become. Throw in a good night’s sleep and you will be even better!