There is no denying that life is moving at whirlwind speeds these days – and adjusting to the ebbs and flows of all of the changes this year has given most of us whiplash. Most days, it can feel as though the list of things to do is never-ending.
With all of the changes that have happened and continue to happen, it is safe to say you are juggling a lot – trying not to let any of the balls drop. While we cannot control what life will throw at us tomorrow, we can control how we react and how we manage life’s curveballs.
Here are some no-thinker strategies to help you better reign in your attention/time management skills:
Let Go of Others’ Expectations
While communication is fundamental – especially in the remote workforce in which most of us have had to acclimate – not every message/email you receive needs an immediate response. One of the biggest distractions in our day is feeling the need to give everyone an answer right now because it is what we think they expect. The reality is that your work is just as important, and it is just not possible to respond immediately to every message that comes through the moment it comes through. Try setting up some boundaries – like adding a line to your email signature, letting people know that if something requires immediate assistance to reach out to you via phone. Or add a Calendly link to your email signature that people can set up direct communication with you.
Give Yourself a Time Limit
It is all too easy to over-schedule ourselves or spend too much time on tasks. Start giving yourself an arbitrary time limit for everything, and you will be surprised how much more you can get done and how much faster you will become at decision-making. Without giving ourselves limits, we give ourselves too much time to not just think but to overthink, which can be detrimental to productivity. Start small, set time limits for things you know do not require much time, overextend your time limits on tasks to start – once you begin completing tasks within (or before) the time has ended, your sense of accomplishment will power you through your next task at hand.
The sense of accomplishment is a feeling most of us can’t get enough of, and once you start feeling it consistently, you won’t want to stop. But don’t beat yourself up if you cannot complete a task within the timeframe you set, but do move on to the next item on your list and come back to it later. Chances are you will come back refreshed and raring to go, and it will help you map out your to-do list more efficiently moving forward.
Know When (and When Not to) Ask For Help
Asking for help can be a slippery slope, not because it is wrong, but because it may not always be necessary. Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help too often, though, can sometimes create more work than necessary – think of it like having too many cooks in the kitchen – too many people involved in a decision-making process (going back and forth) can slow things down rather than speed them up. Again, this is not to say you shouldn’t ask for help/advice when needed – it just means to think it through. Is it something you really need input on, or are you just overthinking things?
Take A Break
This one can be tough for most go-getters, but it is just as important as getting things done. Take some time for yourself throughout the day. Refreshing your mind and your attitude can make all of the difference when you are feeling stuck.
When You End Your Day, Actually End Your Day
If you are working from home, this one has become even more tricky. It is all too easy to check our phones, messages, emails after the workdays have ended but make a conscious effort to let any notifications that come through go until tomorrow. If you struggle with this, then turn off all notifications to remove the temptation to respond after hours.
It is especially tough nowadays to not feel like you should be accessible at all hours – but just because your home is now your office as well, it does not change things. Think about when you were in the office and emails could only come through on your server in the office – all of the communication that came through after-hours waited till the morning, so it should be no different now. And if you are the one sending after-hours emails/messages, think it through – is it really something that cannot wait until tomorrow? If you are afraid you won’t remember what you want to send, make a note of it. When you clock-out for the day and actually stay clocked-out, you will be surprised what a difference it makes in your day-to-day. You will find yourself more intentional with your time and notice how much more productive you become.
All of us need to be more mindful and more respectful to ours and our colleagues work/life balances and that starts with managing our own time so we are not infringing on others’ time.
“It is utterly impossible for any human mind, no matter how brilliant, to think about more than one thing at any given time.” – Dale Carnegie