Friday, April 5, 2013

What's next?

It's early and I awoke with an enormous list of to-dos running through my head.  

Speaking of my head, I'm so congested I dreamed that I ran all the way home from my office only to realize that I'd left my car...and turned around and ran all the way back.  A total of approximately 25 miles.  Oh, on the way I ran into a Cheetah. I tried to warn a passerby but was informed it was only a neighbor's expensive exotic pet.  Strange, huh?  But that's what head congestion gets you, I suppose.

This morning I'm drinking my delicious hot coffee...with French Vanilla Creamer.  The wonderfully restful sound of auto racing fills the room as my husband catches up on some DVR'd moments :) Ahhh.... bliss!

How do you react when you wake up with your to-do list in your waking thoughts?  Read the following excerpt and then I'll give you my own plan of attack!  

     We are addicted to next. When we read our inbox, we're always thinking 
     about the next mail. When we browse the web, we are calibrated to scan 
     quickly, skim often, and barely register what we see. It's neither good nor  
     bad. But it definitely is.

     A woman three days ago said, "I don't like Twitter. I can't keep up." I said, 
     "You don't have to keep up. It's a stream. Dip in. Say hi. Read what you want. 
     But we think we have to keep up. 

    I bet there are many domestic battles that come with smartphone use. You've 
    been "caught" looking at your phone before when it wasn't exactly 
    appropriate. Right? Was it important? No. It was a way to fill a void.
    Put the phone down. Close the lid. Do real work. Unplug.
    The inbox is the perfect delivery system of other people's priorities. Close it.
    Schedule times to read it. Make sure the boss and the significant other 
    (sometimes, these are the same person) have a way to reach you, and shut  
    out everything else. Until it's time to do otherwise.
    I've come to notice that when I keep my body moving regularly (even   
    including small 5 minute stretch and walkabout breaks every 20 or so 
    minutes), my thoughts and my focus are better. Why? Because sitting for 
    unmoving hours in front of your screen is not especially healthy, nor helpful 
    to your brainpower. If 20 minutes is too fast, try 40. But move. Much more 
    often. And stretch your eyes, too.
    The more you work from a plan, the more you will accomplish. Yes,   
    spontaneity is important. But if you haven't handled all your tasks, you have  
    no time to be spontaneous. And that's where your peace about your list sneaks   
    out and gets a sandwich while you're looking around for what you were 
    supposed to be doing next. More planning, more space in your world for a 
    better work-life harmony.
~Chris Brogan~

I realize that not every method for dealing with to do tasks works for every person.  Here's the method that works for me: I like to be very strategic, mindful if you will, about which items take precedent over another. Which items I can postpone, and which items I can delegate.  There are even times (although rare) when I determine a task to be ignorable.  

However, they all start in the same head.  Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming in to do tasks.  I'm sure you feel that way from time to time.

In fact, one fellow employee asked me last week to help him overhaul his to do list. Much like the excerpt above, he feels like he can't keep up, and is overrun with distractions.  

Even on days when I'm home from the office, I still feel this way.  There is SO MUCH TO DO!   This morning I woke up with my to-do list running amuck in my head.  It's own virtual Disney Land...

Here's my plan of attack:  Are you ready?  Grab a pencil and a notepad.  You'll need it.

1.  Dump everything in your head out onto paper!  Get it out of your head and on paper.  Then you can SEE your entire list and it ceases to fill up the crevices in your mind.

2.  Ask yourself three questions:  (1) Is this task time sensitive?  If yes, determine if it's a task that needs to be accomplished immediately or if it can be postponed to a later day.  (2) Is this task a priority for someone else? Meaning, is someone waiting for me to accomplish this before they can move on their task list?  (3) How long has this item been on my todo list?  What is keeping me from making a decision or moving on this task?  Really evaluate your answers!  

3.  Once you've analysed your task list, make a "To Do Today" list.  Prioritize your list and set your mind to accomplish the most important task.  Is it taxes?  Is it laundry?  Are you in need of new running shoes? Do you need to schedule a Dr. visit?  

This week I have family in town.  My sisters and I will be cleaning out some stuff from my dad's house.  Not only is this a time-sensitive task, but it's an emotionally charged task as well.  On top of that, our office is hosting a 4 day class - one for which I'm support person.  That means, instead of working my normal 3-day week, I have to be there all four days.  Oh, we also have friends in from out of town.  We want to spend time with them, as well.  Yes, and then we leave for a week of vacation.  When we return, my husband leaves for a business conference for a week. 

All the laundry must be done in time.  This is priority.  School projects still must be completed and documented.
School field trips must be attended - with correct uniforms, I must add.
Every day homework must be completed, checked and corrected.
Work must be accomplished. Groceries must be purchased. Relaxation must be attained.
Oh yes, and because I'm a little neurotic, my house has to be cleaned BEFORE we leave for vacation.  If it isn't in order, I feel unsettled the entire time we're gone.  

The more I think about it, the more I realize that our to-do list is a lot like head congestion!  The more we try to get rid of it, the more irritating it can become.  We can begin to feel as if we're spinning our wheels.  How do we get unstuck?  We get traction!  Throw a little gravel down and get moving?

What's your to-do-list gravel?  It's picking one thing... one thing that will get you motivated and moving and do it.  Give it 10 minutes.  Grab a highlighter and mark it off.  Once you get moving you'll gain momentum.  Give it your best effort.  You'll only get out what you put in!

Only By His Grace,


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