It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by a workload and end up weighed down by stress, seemingly swimming through mud and being very busy but achieving nothing. It happens to us all at some point.
With a list of projects as long as my arm, I found myself in that position at the start of last week. In fact, as I became overwhelmed by everything, I managed to get nothing done. The half-written articles that should have provided last week’s newsletter weren’t finished and every bit of momentum I had grounded to a halt as I clicked from window to window on the screen in front of me, essentially shuffling papers. Scribbled notes were added to scribbled notes and I ended up with notepad pages full of nothing I could do anything with.
After a Monday spent winding myself up in this way, I decided by late afternoon that the only thing to do was to walk away. My instincts were telling me to sit with it all until I actually managed to get something done, but for once I stood up, left it all and did something else.
First thing on Tuesday morning, relaxed and with a refreshed perspective I created a list of 5 things to do that day. The list contained the most important things that I could do to move forward with my work. It was clear and I knew exactly what to do – everything else faded to background.
Being that direct in a course of action, I stayed on each task until it was complete – the jumping from task to task stopped. As you’ve probably guessed, I’d completed the list by lunchtime, making some really positive progress in that short time.
This is something I’ve encountered before in The Work Project adventure. Taking action forms part of The Work Canvas tool, designed to help work and career progress. To get where you want to be, there’s no substitute for direct action.
The problem is remembering that and keeping it simple enough to allow real progress. I’m calling it the 5 Action Rule.
The 5 Action Rule.
First thing each day, sit down to consider the most important things you need to do today. Do it that morning when you’re not pre-judging through yesterday’s perceptions.
- Make a list of the 5 actions you can take today that will create progress towards a goal.
- Order the list from 1-5.
- Work through the actions in that order.
Focus on one action at a time and don’t deviate until that task is complete.
By all means answer your phone during that time, but any resulting task must be scheduled for after you’ve completed your 5 important daily actions. Don’t check email or social media while you’re taking your 5 actions – they will distract you.
Once you’ve completed your 5 actions, you’ll get a boost of positivity, safe in the knowledge that today you’ve made progress. You’ll also have plenty of time left in the day to do other things…
Let me know how you get on!