Sure, you are very busy. Who isn’t these days? In spite of long days, I’ll bet you often feel unproductive at the end of the day. Why is that?
You put in a crazy day of 10-12 hours and look back realizing you didn’t get a lot accomplished. Ever add something to your “To Do” list that you already did just so you could cross it off? The amount of time we spend working has no direct correlation to the amount of work we get done. Truth is, when the hours drag on, we tend to drag on our productivity. Are you wandering to Facebook? Up for coffee every 20 minutes? Find yourself moving stacks of paper around on your desk? These are all signs that you just don’t want to do what needs to be done.
You’re not lazy. You’re not really tired. You’re just not enthused about what needs to be done. That can come from spending too much time at work. It can come from lack of diversion. It can also come from having too much time to get something done.
That’s right. Having a week to finish a task you can do in an hour means you will do that task at the last minute, take more than an hour to do it and produce less than great work. Spending too much time working leads to mental burn out. Having too much time leads to waste of time. Why? If we have a week to do a task, it feel like a week long task.
What to do?
Take time to think.
I am amazed at the amount of resistance I get when presenting this simple and effective concept. Take time to think.
Most of us have no idea how to “think”. Surprised? I was. When I ask groups about what they should think about when they take time for thinking, few can express a process. Let’s try one and see how how it works for you.
Step away from your desk. Ideally, take a walk. The brain works better when you remove the distractions of your desk. Leave your phone behind. Get up and move around.
Think about what needs to be done. “Needs” is the key word. Cleaning your keyboard doesn’t ‘need’ to be done. Getting that big proposal written up needs to be done. Make a mental list of the 2-3 most important things that need to be done. Decide on the most important item.
Now think about that one task. How can I add something to this task? How can I make it better? Is there anything I can do to make it more interesting? Your brain will love this playground. Then think about this: If I go back to my desk, focus on that task, when could I get it done? An hour? By 5?
By visualizing ‘the end’ you’ll feel a surge of energy.
Take time to think.
Move. Think about making it better. Think about when it will be done if you focus on it now. Then do it.
Go home on time today. Don’t stay late. Plan and protect time off. If you don’t, you’ll be working longer hours than necessary or productive. Think.
Let me know what you think, okay?
Chris Reich, TeachU