Done in a day

You won't get everything done today. Is that frustrating? Here’s the thing, once you get everything done, there is no use for you to even be alive! Once we finish everything we set out to do, unless we start something else, we're useless.

My point is not to worry that we'll become useless; we naturally add things to our list and start new projects once we have completed others, so I'm not concerned that we'll run out of things to do. But to those of us who are frantically trying to finish everything before the end of the day. I ask:

To what purpose?

Why do you want to get EVERYTHING done? If you actually succeeded at that, then tomorrow what would you do?

When I ask myself that question, I don't have a satisfying answer.

So my suggestion is: we need to re-orient our end of day goal. It shouldn’t be to get everything we can possibly think of done. Instead it should be to move our work and relationships forward to a place where we've made progress and it's a good stopping point.

Never fear, we will complete things, but most will take more than a day, so we need to stop thinking we can get everything done in a day and then beating ourselves up because we didn’t get there!

The Enemy of Productivity

Multi tasking is not a skill, it's a detriment to getting things done. It kills productivity. It stifles creativity, and it's the complete opposite of focus. It's physically impossible to do two things at once, unless one of them is mindless like walking or breathing. Even when talking or listening, we actually have reduced attention span and won’t hear or say things as well if we are trying to do other things at the same time. So when we are “multi tasking"  we aren't doing two things at once, we are just switching our brain rapidly from one task to another. Which this makes it virtually impossible to concentrate. We scan the crowd when in a conversation, we check email incessantly while working on an important project and we get......So. Little. Done. Not acceptable!

It's best to sit down and do one thing at a time, and then move on to the next. If we completely finish something, it can be out of our brain and we can use all our energy and attention to tackle the next project and complete it. If you struggle with concentration, try these two simple techniques to improve your focus.

1. Set a timer. 

Don’t try to go all out and concentrate for an entire day. If you aren’t used to it, you will be fighting your brain the entire time trying to maintain the willpower to keep your thoughts and mouse from wandering. Instead, give yourself 30 minutes where you will be ultra focused and allow yourself to do absolutely nothing but the task at hand. That amount of time is manageable for you to focus, and then you can take a break and do little tasks. Then try another 30 minutes, then another, and eventually you will have learned to control your impulses to do lots of things at once.

2. No interruptions.

turn off your wi-fi, cell phone, alerts and lock your door. Yes we usually sabotage ourselves by checking email, texting etc. But a huge amount of interruptions are generally from the outside as well. You can control that. Take a break. Unplug, and be productive. If you are afraid of missing something important, let people know that you won’t be available so they can contact you later. Tell them you have a dead zone from 2-4pm every day, and then disappear into your project. Even just two hours of focused work is better than an entire 8 hour day with too many water cooler conversations, internet surfing and bathroom breaks.

When you are engrossed in your work with zero interruptions, you will find yourself refreshed and much more productive.  Try it out!