If by some weird quirk of fate, you missed the first P, be sure to read it before this one. The Second P is called Parkinson’s law, colloquially known as student syndrome. Put simply, work expands to take the amount of time set aside to get it done. When was the last time you had to write a report? How long did it take? Chances are your report took as much time as you dedicated to get it done. If you set aside two hours, it took two hours. If you set aside two days, then it took two days.
If you are a follower of this blog, you must know the value of having a to-do list to help you manage your tasks. If you don’t use a to-do list, you need to check out this post on why you need one. For the rest of us who have to-do lists, if you had 10 items on your to-do list for the day, how do you decide which task to focus on?
“The Greatest Teacher, failure is.”
-Master Yoda, The last Jedi.
Let me confess, I’m a Star wars fan. The quote above is from a Star Wars movie. With that out of the way, we can begin. Many goals remain unaccomplished because someone refused to try again after they had failed. Crushing failure can stop someone from trying again. Yet the only way to achieve success is to try again. That seems almost like a paradox.
Nobody likes to fail. Some people are afraid to fail. Failure can be very depressing especially if you put in a lot of hard work. I acknowledge all these things about failure. Yet to allow failure to be the factor that sets the limit on what you can achieve is to develop a closed mindset.
Last week, I wrote about the pomodoro technique where you use a timer to focus on only one task for 25 minutes. The pomodoro technique is useful for getting past the mental block that keeps you getting started on an important task. It is possible to take this principle one step further. How do you normally plan your day? Do you block enough time for important tasks? Or do you spend your day putting out fires?
Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Some people who we call “productive” seem to have a way of getting more out of their 24 hours than the rest of the people who we label “unproductive (or lazy).” Most tasks can be broadly grouped into 2:
- The high value important tasks that add the most value to your goals. These are often the tasks that are not fun but necessary. They are also the tasks that most people delay getting started.
- The low value unimportant tasks that don’t always add value to your life but can be fun. An average person might spend a lot of their time doing these second group of tasks at the expense of the first.
Do you have trouble getting started on a task even though you know what the next step should be and have everything you need? If this sounds like you, the bad news is not getting your tasks done automatically sets you up for productivity failure. The good news is you can do something about it. Let me introduce a new word: Pomodoro. No, it’s not English. The pomodoro technique is named after the Italian word for “tomato.” The technique was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. He chose to name the technique after a tomato shaped kitchen timer he used as a student. I promise you don’t have to buy a timer to use this technique.
This is the final part of the posts this month about dealing with distractions that stop you focusing on your most important tasks for the day. I assume you are here because you read the previous three and would like to read the fourth. If by some miracle, you haven’t please check them out here, here and here.
Picture this scenario. You are about to go into a meeting with a prospective client. That client could be the big client you have been working towards getting all year. The meeting will start in 30 seconds. You get a call from your spouse or a message asking you to call them. What do you do? Another scenario, If you work from home and have children, how do you stop them from walking in through the closed door to play with mom or dad?
This post is the third in a series of posts I am writing this month on how to deal with distractions at work. If you have not read the earlier posts, you can read them here and here. Today’s post will focus on how to deal with distractions from coworkers and friends.
Everyone has that co-worker who drops by to say hi and magically stays to chat for an hour. You might have a friend that drops by your workplace unannounced and expects you to listen to their problems? We are social creatures who want to connect and have positive relationships with people. The people you work with are part of your professional network. You will often need their input at some point if you are to be effective at the job you do. It will be a bad idea to alienate them. Your friends also represent an important part of your network. Hanging out on your own can be dreadfully dull.