“Wish there were 36 hours in a day!” is not an uncommon wish. We are constantly pulled in multiple directions every single day; and 24 hours just don’t seem enough. As the expectations to deliver increase, the length of our ‘to do list’ increases proportionately. The picture on personal front is no different with hordes of responsibilities and expectations.
At the end of the day, it’s natural for one to feel stressed out. And feel disappointed for not achieving what one has set out for. Three simple principles can be applied to help battle this seemingly never ending war against time:
Harness the power of high energy period – Each one of us have different body rhythms with times when our energy levels are the highest. These are times when we are most productive. For some it’s early in the morning, and for some it’s late in the evening. Assigning right kind of activities to this time help get a lot of work done, specifically work that requires high level of concentration.
Create rituals, practice self-discipline – While the previous point is known to many, few are able to follow it. Self-discipline is the roadblock. I may set aside 8:30 to 9:30 am as my high energy period and plan to do some productive work. I open my mail box to respond to one important mail, and get lost in a deluge of other e-mails. Before I realize its 9:45 am and my high energy period is gone!
To overcome this, create rituals. Rituals are highly specific behaviors done at specific times of a day; they do not require thinking. Rituals can be around specific times that you allocate to quality thinking, planning, checking e-mails etc. They can also be for time to sleep, wake up, to exercise, what to do first thing in the morning, planning for next day, week or month.
Creating rituals and maintaining a structure helps get a lot done. As a bonus, it helps reduce stress levels. Life may seem boring, but stick to a routine even in the weekends, including sleep time. This helps get a lot of personal as well professional work done in the weekends.
Decide what to multi-task and what not to – There are different opinions about multi-tasking – some say that multi-tasking is good; while others opine that it should be avoided. Add to this terms like good multi-tasking and bad multi-tasking!
We all know that there are things we can do well, even if we are being interrupted constantly. For example, routine e-mail checking and responding can be done in between phone calls and discussions. It does not require concentrated efforts. However, there are other things which require focused efforts. Planning the day as per the intensity of the task helps. This actually takes us back to first point – productively using high energy periods!