It is Halloween today, then it will be Bonfire Night, and then we are on the countdown to Christmas. Indeed, there are Christmas cards in the shops already. In addition to all the other things you need to do, there are costumes, pumpkins and candy to sort out for Halloween. Bonfire night parties to arrange, then the Christmas planning is upon us. The thoughtful gifts. The stocking fillers. The parties. The party outfits. Baking the cake early enough to allow it to be fed an entire bottle of brandy. The list goes on and on. Time, always at a premium, doesn’t stretch to accommodate all the extra tasks you need to complete at this time of year. I'm sure we'd all like a couple of terms at Hogwarts to learn some spells to stretch time so we can get more done in a day. I can't offer you that all-important magic wand, but I can offer some tips to help you to make the most of the time you have available.
Multi-Tasking: Please Don’t.
Although it is tempting to think doing several things at once will get things done quicker, your brain is not set up to work that way. It works best if you allow it to concentrate on just one task or group of related tasks. Setting aside one Sunday for a massive baking session, for example, means you can get the cake, mince pies, chutneys and yule log sorted and into the freezer. This fully utilises the oven and gets multiple things off your To Do List in one go.
Researching four related blogs, writing them all one after the other, and then scheduling them either as a series or a few weeks apart is another example. By minimising your brain’s need to keep switching tasks, you feel more in control ,and your brain works more efficiently, allowing you to get more done. In contrast, trying to bake and write an article doesn't work.
Interrupting your work to read notifications breaks your train of thought. Daniel Leviton, author of "The Organised Mind" calls the desire to read notifications and Emails "The Novelty Bias". It can take several minutes to recover focus following trivial interruptions, and over a whole day, those tiny interruptions can add up to quite a bit of lost time.
If you struggle to ignore notifications, there are apps that will block access to Social Media for set periods of time so that you won’t be tempted. Or, do as I do, leave your phone downstairs when you are working upstairs.
Is it the right time?
If you set aside particular times of day to work on tasks, this can really add to your productivity. Working on complicated or creative tasks when you are feeling fresh will ensure they get done more quickly. Most of us experience a post-lunch dip in energy, which can be a good time to check Emails and do routine housekeeping tasks in the office. Knowing your optimum time for creativity and making the most of it will make a big difference to your week.
Planning: It’s not just for Project Managers
Have a goal in mind for each week and create a plan for each day. If you plan out your week and list the key tasks you will complete each day in order to achieve your end goal, it will be easier to remain on track. Each task on your list should move you nearer to the goal you have in mind, whether that is planning an office party or gaining more business.
Having an accountability partner can be helpful as well. They can ensure you stay on target by challenging you to complete the tasks you have set yourself that week or month. Choose someone who will have the confidence to give you a kick if you aren’t meeting your goals.
Whilst some people undoubtedly work well in a messy environment, I’ve seldom met anyone who worked well in a disorganised one. Those who work with messy desks always have a hidden method of organisation that is not apparent to the casual observer. They can always lay their hands on the thing they need. Nothing wastes time like a fruitless search for the pen you had a minute ago, the stapler you know you had last week or that critical document that you didn’t file away which is now in a pile of other unfiled documents in the corner of the office.
A Magic Wand
If you are struggling to find time for the things you love, you have mislaid your magic wand, or you just don't know where to start, then my Organisation Power Hour will help.
Alternatively, if you want someone to ride to the rescue and cast a few spells on your admin, then book a call with me to find out how I can help you to feel calm and in control.