A sense of accomplishment is a key factor in feeling good about yourself and your place in the world.
When you focus only on urgent tasks and operate in crisis mode, you are going to be stressed, frustrated and burned out. That is because in the back of your mind you are always worried about all the stuff you should be doing and fretting over the stuff you never get to do.
When you have a strategy in place, one that helps you prioritize your tasks, you can get it all done, anticipate and adjust to changes and, in general, experience less stress in your day. A little tweak to your schedule can help you prevent the stress in the first place, and you will get a whole lot done.
Now what if I told you that this change can prevent up to 80% of the “urgent” items ending up on your to do list in the first place? Is that something that would be worth the time it takes to set up? What if you could get the rush of excitement from doing the stuff you want to do instead of from pulling it off without a moment to spare and if no one notices the…?
If a more accomplished day is what you are after, the easiest strategy I have found is to layer your schedule. Creating a nice mix of stuff you work on can help you feel productive and lessen the occurrence of overwhelm. Plus, a bit of variety can keep you from getting bored.
Here are the 4 layers to schedule:
1. The stuff you have committed to. These are appointments at a specific location at a specific time on a specific day. The things you said yes to. Ultimately, you want to say yes and no to these things based on your goals. That makes most appointments something to look forward too.
2. The stuff you have to do. These are the items that need to get done to be able to live, and to keep your word. These often come with a deadline you need to meet. Again, things you said yes to and sometimes not the funnest stuff to do, however, not doing them causes more problems.
Laundry, grocery shopping, writing a testimonial, making that call, are all examples of stuff you have to do. Not doing them in a timely manner leads to feelings of urgency, even when the world will not end if you don’t do them at all.
Eventually you will want to tie these to your goals and want to do’s to prevent the urgency and feel more accomplished.
3. The usual stuff. These are the routines you set up to keep your home and work functioning. The more you use routines, the easier it gets to stay on top of things, and the less effort it takes to do these things. A smooth running system your creativity can flow from.
Sometimes the usual stuff is stuff you have to do, and sometimes it is stuff you want to do.
By scheduling the routines regularly and for relatively short burst of time, you can make sure you don’t get behind and that you are practicing your focus. That will come in handy for the last layer.
4. The stuff you want to do. These are the items that often seem undoable due to a lack of enough hours in the day. I urge you to schedule some of these anyway. Even just one a week to start can make a big difference. This is the stuff that energizes you so you will accomplish more in the long run.
By practicing the other 3 layers, you will begin to see time savings that you can use to add in more of the stuff you want to do. When you ask yourself what you feel like working on this is the answer.
Tie the stuff you want to do to your goals and vision and the stuff in the other layers will begin to reflect the whole harmony of what you are trying to accomplish. And guess what? You will be accomplishing so much more.
After awhile, the difference between want to and have to will blur. You will be getting more done and feeling good about it. Happy even. So, make the decision to put a mix in your schedule and replace the urgent with happy action.