During the first years of self-employment I was constantly stressed. Actually, I was stressed long before that, because in any job you have to be organized and the work load is usually bigger than the days are long. I developed a simple habit that helped me so much to not be stressed and feel productive and be successful. I need to share this and encourage you to try it on for yourself …
Do your days at work start with checking e-mails, often containing things that will never let you return to your originally intended day? It has been my daily experience for a long time. Not only did I not get to what I thought I would, but I also left the office feeling like I did not get anything accomplished, a typical Groundhog Day (the movie) kind of life. On top of that, I never seemed to get to decluttering the office, which made me feel even more like work is going to swallow me alive any day now.
After experimenting for a while with will power (never a good idea, since it is so limited in us humans), I combined a piece of advice from my wonderful coach-friend Kathy and my former professional organizer client (www.thingsinplace.com) and got two problems turned into a mightily empowering success guaranteed feel good tool:
I realized that I needed to accomplish certain things in a day in order to feel good about my progress at the end of each day. Now I take about a minute first thing in the morning (before reading e-mails!) to think ahead and wonder, which 3 things would feel great to have done by the end of the day. Usually they are things that I would like to procrastinate on, out of various reasons. There might be fear, worry involved, or I simply don´t know yet, how I will go about doing something, or even what my opinion on it is.
Every morning I come up with 3 top things. Then I commit to paying attention to them, to getting something done concerning the top 3. Sometimes I put more items down (actually, usually), but I make sure to highlight my top 3, because I want to feel good by the end of the day.
Now comes my second part of this: After using my smart phone (love the Got Milk App, or even just the task list option on my calendar) for this priority list, I got tired of it, since it was still too complicated, because I needed to unlock the phone, press buttons, select app, etc. each time I wanted to check on my list. I like simple. Finally, one morning I looked around my still not sufficiently picked up office and got a glance of my huge supply of post-it notes. The reason I have so many (different sizes and colors) is that it took me a long time to realize I don´t even like using them, I just liked buying them (joke´s on me). Remembering my professional organizer client´s tip to get rid of excess office supplies (I never had the heart to toss them, at least I stopped buying more), I gave them a try for my 3 priorities list.
It works great! Every morning, I use a post-it to write my priorities for the day on it. I even put the date on (it never hurts to get an early morning start on knowing which day we are at). I then place it on any location I like, sometimes the office desk, the computer, my phone, my pocket. I always know where it is, and I look at it often. It is amazing, how it keeps me on track. After each break, I check it and ask myself, which priority I want to tackle now. Sometimes I add items throughout the day. I made it my own little highlight of the day to crumple up the post it and toss it into the room (my cat loves chasing it) once I am done. Each day has become an energetic chase to this moment, it is so empowering and motivating.
I always make sure to honor my commitment to make myself feel good, productive and on top of things. It is so awesome to spend the evening feeling free and well on my way with my goals. No longer do I have the lurking feeling that some of the administrative things pile up and will come back to bite me. I naturally take care of them, one by one with this technique. My coaching practice has since picked up speed, I feel in charge and it is so rewarding.
I have also learned by doing it this way that things I would before procrastinate are always less work/scary/complicated in reality, that it is fun getting to the things that really count.
As always, I don´t expect you to believe me. Try it out and see for yourself. I wish you much productivity, success, fun and freedom (at least freedom from post-its it will be :-) ).