Optimize Your Productivity – Spring Clean the Way You Work

Is this your life?

Do you write your ‘to-do’ lists with determination and focus, only to find that by mid-day your world suddenly feels like every other day except for the time you took to write your to-do list, which is working its way to the bottom of a new pile of paper quickly accumulating on your desk? Do you return home exhausted yet unable to sleep, so you play on your phone, surf the net or watch TV to find some sort of escape?

Maybe you wake up the next day with slightly less determination but still with a desire (maybe even a deep need) to maintain the focus and comfort that you had 36 hours ago when you first wrote that to-do list. You want to change the way your day unfolds so that you feel like you are accomplishing something … meaningful.

Accumulation

Our energy levels influence our productivity and our ability to focus. Think about when you’re drained from a busy week and you suddenly remember you wanted to buy groceries. If you’re like many people, you’ll skip groceries and decide to eat whatever is in your pantry or order in. While there’s nothing wrong with that choice, it does demonstrate the point that we’ll skip doing even those things that are important to us when our energy is low.

Challenging situations like death, divorce, or a job change push our energy levels even lower and our brains function more in survival mode (fight or flight) than in proactive mode.  Add in health issues, poor digestion or poor eating habits and it’s no wonder the “to-do” list gets buried.

Naturally, every task we put off accumulates along with the other tasks that have been deferred. And the pile of tasks itself adds stress.

Whether we’re speaking of living spaces or work places, unfinished tasks can accumulate to the point where they may need hours and even days to accomplish. In a study by

Environics Canada*, 40% felt their home office was less than organized while 58% felt that their clothes closets and wardrobes were less than organized and just over 40% listed the kitchen as a sore point.

 Setting up supportive systems so we can get things done is imperative for

reduced stress and happier lives … and yes, it is attainable! 

 

Spring Cleaning Your Task List

The smell of spring in the air can be the perfect motivation to get those unruly tasks done!

Here are some tools to help you along:

  1. Capture all the actions, reminders, ideas and notes from your head in one safe place. From this list, create one to-do list with just tasks.
  2. Sort the task list into three categories: Schedule, Delay, and Delete. Review your master list of tasks and ask yourself if you will schedule it in, delay it until a later date, or delete it entirely.
  3. Schedule – looking at the items in the “Schedule” category, schedule the three most important or urgent tasks into your calendar for the week. Next week you’ll add in 3 or 5 more, so start small and celebrate what you accomplish.

Scheduling ABCs for optimum results:

A) Manage your expectations and your energy by NOT trying to do everything in one day or one week. As we see from the example above, and we know from experience, trying to do everything on the list doesn’t work.

B) Prioritize your work. We can spend a lot of time on smaller, mindless tasks for a momentary sense of accomplishment and still have a long list of truly important, yet unfinished tasks. Choose one important, meaningful task and when it’s complete follow up with something easy. Your accomplishment will boost your energy!

C) Use a calendar that you are comfortable with (paper or digital) and allocate accurate start times and end times to each activity.

  1. Group like activities together in order to save time and get more done. Plan a morning of running errands and an afternoon working on a project at home.
  2. Break it Down – where the task is more like a project, break it down into individual tasks, and schedule them into your calendar. Create a one-page project sheet and keep it in a folder with the project name on it or start a one page digital document that is easily accessible on your desk top.
  3. Recruit Assistance – Think about how you can save time by hiring professional help. For example, if you spend 7 hours cooking each week, consider hiring a chef or having food delivered. A Concierge Professional could help you with 3 hours of errands a month.
  4. Celebrate – Review your calendar at the start and end of each day. Move what isn’t completed to another day, and celebrate what you accomplished!

 

 

Deanne Kelleher, the pragmatic and energetic leader behind kAos Group’s vision and patented Core Four System successfully and passionately helps clients identify and implement needed changes to enhance organization in their professional and personal lives.

 

*Buried Alive, The Toronto Sun Tuesday October 2nd, 2012

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