Ever feel like you don’t have time to get it all done? Been there. I attended a seminar about 10 years ago that literally changed my life. I learned three major lessons.
1. Use ONE system….
I used to use multiple systems to stay organized. I used an electronic calendar but supplemented that with a paper-based system for the national training schedule. I had multiple pretty notebooks that I took to meetings, post it notes at both of my desks plus a notebook beside my bed for those moments of brilliance..you know the ones that are brightest at 3 am. It’s not a wonder I was always tired. I was constantly running through my multiple systems….reviewing, re-reading meeting notes so I wouldn’t forget anything. My brain NEVER rested.
2. A brain dump is REQUIRED….
Have you ever ACTUALLY written down everything that needed doing every day? The most brilliant part of the seminar for me was a facilitated exercise that required me to write down all of the tasks on the list in my brain. He prompted all of us to start from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning…think about having a shower (need to buy shampoo and toothpaste), getting dressed (I’ll hem those pants, suit to the dry cleaner), then brushing your teeth, having breakfast (need milk, eggs and chicken), get in the car (need an oil change and need gas), drive to the office. Get your morning coffee. Now, start with your outstanding items in every one of your projects…..oh dear!
I was literally halfway down Page 3 … the facilitator talked faster and faster…bringing home his point. Once I realized that my task list was impossible to complete without a disciplined system, I sat back in my chair. I was so excited that I stayed up very late that evening completing the huge task list, then started to schedule REAL time for everything I had written. It was still IMPOSSIBLE!
I re-negotiated some of my internal deadlines, shortened meetings to 45 minutes and stopped attending any without set agendas or clear objectives. I communicated my epiphany to my team, set clear boundaries and got comfortable with the fact that I would be working through those outstanding tasks for some time. I became a more efficient employee and became a better manager for my team. I have no doubt that seminar saved my career and put my life back into balance.
3. Have a task list of things you might do someday, or perhaps NEVER at all!!!
As I mentioned, I had a long task list of things that I was unable to schedule that first evening. I put all those tasks in a “not now” list so that my brain wasn’t a swirling mess of to do’s when my pillow was calling my name. Interestingly enough, I eventually scheduled and completed every “not now” task on that list. I felt like I had climbed Everest!
If you have multiple systems, I urge you to trim to one. Make a list of things that need doing that are taking up your precious brain power and schedule it….or put it on the “not now ” task list. Then sleep well knowing it’s on THE list!
With great love (for technology),
Shirly (Irene) Vanluling