Life gets in the way

Sunrise

We all had great plans for 2020. We all had things we wanted to accomplish. We wrote them down and got started. Then the pandemic got in the way. A lot of our plans had to be shelved. We had to deal with the fear of a disease that no one had a cure for. We had to adjust to new ways of working. We also had to adjust our priorities. We reviewed what was most important in our lives and came to appreciate the security having a roof over your head, food to eat, healthcare and the ability to continue working from home provided.

It doesn’t always require a pandemic to disrupt our goals. However, the coronavirus pandemic provides a very good example of how activities outside our control can affect our ability to achieve our goals. At some point this year, you probably had to shelve old plans and make new ones. Even without a life changing event such as a pandemic, there will always be constraints to some of your goals. Being aware of them can help you set more meaningful goals in your life.

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When you just can’t get in the mood for work (ii)

Fear

My previous post was about the reasons you just can’t seem to take that crucial first step towards getting your goals achieved. For many people, fear seems to be the factor that stops them. If you regularly find yourself in a productivity slump, there are a few techniques you can try to help you get in the mood for work. The most difficult step is often the first one.

Schedule your tasks

If you can’t see it, you can’t get it done. Write down what you want to do. Use a to-do list. If you have recurring tasks, try and schedule them for the same time of the week or day. After some time, they will become habits and be easier for you to do. Having a schedule means once it’s time to get a task started, your brain automatically goes into work mode and you can jump into your tasks straight away.

A clock and a folder
What time is it? What do I need to work on now?

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When you just can’t get in the mood for work (i)

Fear

Do you ever have days when you wake up knowing what you are supposed to do but somehow just can’t seem to get started? Days where you know the next step to take because you have written in your to-do list but something stops you taking that first step and building momentum. It’s a fact of life that we will all have good days and bad days. There are a lot of reasons why you find yourself struggling to start tasks. Most of those reasons stem from one thing: FEAR.

Fear of the unknown

Achieving goals requires stepping out of your comfort zone. It is never easy to do that. We are creatures of habit and we like staying where it is safe. The average person is content to do the same things again and again because they are what he/she is used to and that comfort is not something they want to let go off. Working on your goals requires pushing your limits and trying new (sometimes scary) things. If you aren’t ready to ditch the comfort zone, you won’t get started on important tasks.

A man running from his own shadow
“All the dread is mainly in the head”

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What’s distracting you from work this week? (iv)

Icons of popular social media platforms

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?

A torn scrap of paper. The word "urgent" is written on it
A child believes everything is urgent

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What’s distracting you from work this week? (i)

Icons of popular social media platforms

Let’s face it, distractions are everywhere. It could take the form of desktop notifications or a colleague who stops to say hi and chats for one hour. It could simply be your children playing loudly in the background or an argument you had in the morning that affects your ability to concentrate later in the day.

Most distractions come either from the internet or from other people. Few offices have really private areas, except if you are a high level executive with a private office. In an office where everyone can drop by at any time, it’s easy to spend an hour chatting with the colleague who stops by your desk to wish you good morning. Distractions from the internet can be even harder to deal with. In a culture that fears missing out and constantly refreshes social media pages, it can be difficult to take a deep breath and stay offline to get meaningful work done.

A green chalkboard with the words "please do not disturb" written on it
Would this on my desk help?

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