Isn't it interesting, a good pal and inspiration Terry Mullins in his Reluctant Salesman workshops advocates some great advice and processes to move forwards - the first tip below, is straight out of his book, and teaches us how to have instant freedom from our to do lists.
Planning is key to stay on track, to keep focused and to always be moving forwards. Add to this, building some achievable timescales, and realising what is the real important work, and all of a sudden, the day, week and month feels less stressed, and more aligned with your real priorities - not who ever sends the latest email to you or interrupts your day.
Sometimes, the analysis of your time is very revealing, and that is something for another discussion - the split of where you spend your time and where you really want to spend your time - now that can be an eye opener.
Meanwhile, a couple of things we can do to boost effectiveness, be it at work, home at the weekends or where-ever...
1. Get rid of your to do list, and schedule instead This is something I believe heavily in, not only do we get rid of the list in one go, but also, the brain is set free from the burden of the list. As the task has been processed (even though it has been scheduled for a specific time) it is out of the brain - it is happening so lets not worry. So, get your list, work down through it, item by item, and schedule for when you are going to do it - simple!
2. Plan your day backwards - be it at work or at home, be in control of the schedule. That way, you can allocate sensible time for everything you decide to do, and guess what, if you finish early, good for you, you are done. An example of working backwards, is that of a new parent. What time do babies wake up? Who knows! But bedtime, is a controllable point. By setting a regular bath time and bed time, no matter what has happened to the schedule through the day, there is a single point which remains fixed, bedtime and sleep follows, and hopefully a good structure and routine starts to be built.
3. Plan the week - this builds on point 1 be scheduling, and brings in all aspects of your life. It also keeps us on track and stops burdens building towards the end of each week. If you schedule time to do this on a Friday lunchtime, on Monday morning, you are ready to roll, and be effective - and also, there is nothing you need to remember over the weekend (remember it has been scheduled and you are free of it), allowing you the freedom to focus on fun and whatever else you have lined up.
4. Say No, but do the things you say yes to very well - it is easy to say yes to everthing, then spread yourself thin, heaping stress upon yourself by trying to please others. It feels great to be asked to do something, we feel valued and worth something, but shortly after, another bag gets loaded on the mule's back, then another and another, then soon, it gets to much, and we just cannot perform. Those we say no to, will of course be disappointed, but that will be short lived, they will find someone else, and we can continue to do what we really can excel at, in a focused manner
5. Less shallow work, more deep stuff - we can all look busy doing 'stuff' but does it really make a difference, does it make us feel fulfilled, and does it provide results? Emails can easily invade our day, especially circular emails where we feel compelled to comment - just because everyone else has. A simple thumbs up will do - the sender is at ease through the acknowledgement, and another 10 minutes of everyone's time is saved by not having to reply to your reply because they feel obliged to reply (and on it goes).
If you only select a couple of these points - I suggest scheduling and just giving a thumbs up on circular emails - then marvel at the time and intention you have created.
Schedules and plans sound cold and clinical but the end result couldn’t be farther from that.