“There is more to life than just increasing its speed.” Gandhi
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with your workload and issues in your personal life, that you don’t know where to start? Consequently, you find yourself dancing on the same spot, further increasing your heartbeat, cortisol and stress levels?
That’s exactly where I have been recently, procrastinating and putting off my actions instead of beginning the process of “Eating into the Elephant”. I cleaned out the kitchen cupboard, wrote a couple of birthday cards, cleaned the download box in my computer, invited my neighbour round for coffee and generally filled my day with low value tasks and tasks that were not even included on my list of things to be done! By the end of the day totally exhausted and even more stressed because I realized that I had just wasted a whole day procrastinating!
How do you get off that same spot before you wear a hole in the carpet or run out of time? Focus on reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed. Eating the elephant whole is not possible, so do it in bite size pieces keeping in mind the overall goal of eating the whole elephant. The following three steps helped me:
1. Create a “To Do” list - I took everything that I have to do out of my head and put it to paper. Seeing the tasks rather than just thinking about them had a calming effect. All of a sudden things became more manageable as I could see what was important, evaluate approximate time needed and understand the urgency of each one.
Picking out the one that is most likely to take the largest junk of time, even though it was not the task with the closest deadline, created further calm – giving space for thinking as well as writing, creating and doing. (If a deadline had been really close, I would have started with that task instead.)
2. Using the most productive part of my day for the most brain-oriented task was also helpful. We all have biorhythms which when we understand our own biorhythmic pattern can use this to our advantage to do the most intense, difficult or demanding item on the list when our biorhythm is at its most energy dense and when having less energy, for example after lunch, using that time to clean out under the kitchen sink (if you really must!), update client files, enter data etc. This means the lower energy time can still be put to good use, but does not take so much effort or brainpower from an already low energy time in the day. Overall result - higher productivity, and less anxiety!
3. Applying Pareto Law of 80/20 helped eat into several tasks at the same time, whilst also ensuring I was working on the most important tasks on the list. Twenty percent of my activities, achieved eighty percent of the results, as it would likely yours
Enjoy your dance, put in the rhythm and steps that stop you from dancing on the same spot and procrastinating. Work smarter, not harder.