I'm going to take Monday mornings to assess what I need to do for the upcoming week and organize my schedule. My kids are back in school. The days are getting cooler and shorter. Somehow autumn always feels like getting "back on track" for me. Busy season also starts up for me again with work (travel, talks, teaching), so there is no better time to revisit my work and home routine than now.
I know I am not the most organized or efficient person on the planet. Having a 'create my own adventure' career means I am the only person keeping myself accountable and when I slip it's 90% my fault (I'll let my clients take the fall for the other 10%). The sooner I can change my
habits patterns of workflow during the day, the easier my scheduling will become. My fall schedule will need look something like this…
1. Start with a clean desk. I work better with a clean and organized work area. Once clutter starts, it seems to breed. As someone that does a lot of 'brain work' I find myself distracted because of all the things around me that are not being addressed. Piles of papers with notes on them only make me think of all the items on the paper, so I put them in a organizer off my desk. Open documents on my computer desktop feel like unfinished work, so I close browser tabs and documents unless I'm working on them right then and there. I would rather surround myself with things that are not work-related and that somehow reduce stress or give me joy.
2. Learn to triage emails. It is not necessary for me to open every email I get when I get it and see if I need to answer it. I have been learning to scan the sent from name and see if it's a crucial email to deal with it right then (or I forget…) or categorize/tag it and deal with it over lunch or at the end of the day. I'm actually getting a bit of pushback from people that are accustomed to emailing me and getting an immediate response, but it is too disruptive to my day to drop everything and deal with something on another person's schedule.
3. Block out time. This goes along with my ideas for not disrupting my work flow. I know I work better on heavy brain work in the morning, and work better on creative 'fluffy' ideas in the afternoon after lunch. It's just my rhythm. If I start to structure my work tasks around the time of day I'm best suited to be productive – it will stop feeling like grinding and more like flowing.
4. Short term & long term projects. I let long term projects and goals slip to deal with short term work. It seems like a good idea to be able to check more items off a list when I can get them done quickly, but more items just follow them up. It seems I rarely get to productively work on my long term / big picture projects. These are the game-changer things for me, but my days get eaten up with other people's needs (work and personal – I do have two young kids). While I can't sit every day and work on big projects, not every work day has to be constructed the same. I can leave myself 1/2 day on Friday's or something to work on the big stuff that will move the needle forward for me.
5. Take sanity & health breaks. My office is inside the building and doesn't face an outside window. My home office is in the basement. No sunlight, controlled temperature, and sitting in a chair for 12 hours a day. Not healthy physically or mentally. I'm trying to get up and walk around every 45-60 minutes and take a break to stretch and clear my head.
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Seriously? From now on I will believe that capitalism provides a decent standard of living, so ..
great post +Lynette Young. Nowadays it's becoming more important to schedule work bursts to optimize productivity but also know when to take breaks to refresh the mind and body. I find Sunday evening a good time to both review the week past, and plan the forthcoming week's schedule. Check out the Pomodoro technique for maximizing focus and concentration on tasks / projects.
For number 5 at least 5 minutes each hour, preferably 10, I tend to go grab a coffee or tour the estate
+Armando José Lira de Souza your post may have been flagged by someone reading this post. Sorry about that.
+Lynette Young Thanks for the reply, but it's not fair, my comment was flagged as inappropriate, for having a sense of humor!
Well stated Lynette. I follow the primary methods you have outlined and they work.. at least for me..?