Future You Will LOVE You For This
Ever found yourself lost in the scroll? Freewheeling through a Facebook or Instagram feed, mindlessly liking or commenting but doing nothing worthwhile? Me too. The distraction, although welcome, is what stopped me from getting to grips with my newly slimmed-down workday (thanks Covid). So I took action.
As we entered 2021 with such high hopes of normality returning, only to have them quickly dashed, I decided that I needed a diet.
Not a food diet (although I should ditch the lattes...one day) but a time-waste diet. A detox from all the bad habits that cost me valuable hours. So I set about creating a new approach to managing my time. However, from past experience, I know that my good intentions can fade with time. But this year it’s different. If nothing else, the past 12 months has taught me that I can squeeze so much into such a short time. IF. I. FOCUS.
If you’re anything like me (i.e. someone who paid for an annual SkillShare subscription with the intention of doing a course a week but am yet to complete a single one), then you’re probably the type of person whose mind likes to drift into some magical land of procrastination, where you leave it to future you to deal with all the tasks that you have on your plate.
The first thing you need to understand is that future you is unreliable.
Don’t trust future you.
Future you will tell you that you’ve got this, and the next thing you know it’s 5 pm and you’ve got dinner to cook, kids to bathe, emails to reply to and sleep to be had and nothing has been completed. You see, future you has also got stuff to do. Present you has to take care of what’s going on now, so future you can manage future workload.
You with me? Good.
A lack of productivity leads to a pile-up of stuff. Your to-do list will grow and grow until you have too much to do and not enough time.
And while it’s a totally human and normal reaction to stress, it doesn’t help you move forward.
So it’s up to you now, the present you, to make sure that things get done. And honestly, you’ll feel less anxious and stressed out about the day if you have an attack plan. You know that painfully American saying ‘the best defence is a good offence’? That’s what we’re going for.
Time Blocking No, it’s not a new TikTok craze. It’s a way to plan out your workload. Elon Musk does it, so it must be good. Pretty sure ‘plan trip to Mars’ is just after ‘count my $20 billion’.
Elon aside, what I’m saying is; schedules are important. They keep your life in balance and stop you from ending up overwhelmed and stressed. Sounds good, right?
But how do I time block? You ask.
It means allocating a time to each job on your list and being realistic about it.
WRITE IT DOWN.
If you have a visual reference then you tend to keep to it, rather than pushing things back. Schedule everything - time for emails, time for calls, even time for breaks. That way you create order and calm in your day.
By sectioning out your jobs into designated times, those self-imposed deadlines can push you to achieve what you need to get done, all the while not throwing too much at you all at one time, like a traditional check-list might. The pressure is off because if you map out your whole week, you know what’s going to be done. You can manage client deadlines better, you can slot in life-tasks more easily and you can feel like you really do have this.
Urgent vs Important
Since writing all of this down helps to make your day flow more smoothly, I created the Productivity Pad. An A5 notepad made from recyclable, super-luxe paper that gives you space to plan your day, make a note of what’s urgent and important, as well as notes for life to-dos. This pad might just be the thing that keeps you to those ‘New Year, New You’ promises...