It’s been said that the average person has 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. One can only imagine how difficult it can be to have a clear course of action to organize one’s thoughts, while getting interrupted by colleagues, emails, text messages / social media notifications. Here are some quick tips to make your day easier and more productive:
Tip #1 - Commence The Mental Download & Have Your Parking Lot Ready
If you feel that you have a lot on your mind, you probably do. Write down everything including the emotions that you’re feeling about that particular task. Downloading these thoughts will free up your mental capacity throughout the day, and keep your mind focused.
Here are a couple of examples of what a written task could look like:
Business Development – Make 10 Calls – Nervous / Avoiding
Final Changes to Presentation Deck – Easy and shouldn’t take too long
As other demands will occur during the day, grab a second sheet of paper and write the words “Parking lot” on the top. It can be used to capture those new asks that were not planned, and allow you to keep focused at the task at hand. In most cases, these new requests are usually not required to be completed the same day, and can be added to your working list tomorrow.
Tip #2 - Divide & Conquer
Once you have completed step one, you now have the ability to organize your thoughts. At first, you may be wondering, “this sounds like it is going to take a lot of work and time”. In fact, what you are trying to do is reprogram the way that your brain views and allocates tasks in the future. The more you use these techniques, the more efficient you will become. Here are some suggestions:
Time – What is your level of urgency for the task at hand? Sometimes the things that you want to do, are not necessarily what you need to do. Does this need to be done today, tomorrow, next week? Or would it be a nice to do?
Difficulty – Depending on the task we may resort to dealing with the easiest tasks first. However, tackling the more difficult ones allows you do get it done and over with. If you are not sure how long it’s going to take set a time with a hard stop. An example of this could be “I have to create this new report from scratch; I will allocate 30 minutes to see what I can come up with.” Once the time is up, no matter how tempting it may be to continue, move on to your next task at hand. Allocate additional time, if required, in your calendar. It can be really easy to get lost into a new project.
Grouping – On a list you may have numerous tasks for the same initiative. It could be Work, Family, and Finances. Group these items together and see if there are common themes to what needs to be done. This technique allows for more efficient conversation by handling numerous inquiries at the same time, and some might be related.
Tip #3 - Be Realistic With Your Abilities & Your Time
Ask yourself at the beginning of the day, “What does success look like today? If I could complete (X) amounts of tasks, how would that make me feel?” Review the tasks at hand and always ask the question “When do you / they need this completed by?” It’s not unusual to feel that everything is urgent and must be completed right away. Keep track of those immediate asks because as we all know, some tasks are a “nice to do” versus right now. There is also a potential coaching opportunity to the individual(s) that are assigning these urgent tasks on a frequent basis. Ask lots of questions and all else fails ask for help. Clarity will save you time.
TIp #4 - A Letter To Tomorrow’s Self
This short recap note completed at the end of the day to give you a quick start tomorrow. It can list the progress that you have made as well as important challenges that you need to tend to. This is all about having a clear mind when leaving the office and not having to try to remember everything for the next day. This can keep you focused at home with your family and friends, and improve your sleep patterns.
Tip #5 - Rinse & Repeat
Once you have completed a letter to tomorrow’s self, look at your accomplishments and acknowledge your hard work. Review items on your parking lot and add them to the your list. Take the time to appreciate what you have done, not what could have been done.
If you would like to receive a Free Organizing Thoughts Template, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be glad to share. Time is finite and what we make of it is our choice. If you are interested in more topics like this one, check out the article section on our website. New content is added frequently. Don’t miss a post a Yellow Brick Road post on your feed by getting on our Monthly Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
As always, your Yellow Brick Road awaits you!
James Amarelo CEC - Founder
Yellow Brick Road - Coaching and Consulting