We all find ourselves with to-do lists that we never complete. And the lack of completion often creates extra stress in already stressful situations. There are many ideas regarding better scheduling methods and better means of prioritizing tasks. I came across this short piece which offers a mindfulness approach to removing stress from the hectic nature of struggling to complete what we must.
If you can define the schedule of your workday or week even a little, yet constantly feel constrained by time, try a new path. Get mindful as to what rigid routine or schedule pattern is causing you stress. Even if you can’t figure it out, try injecting some change-up. Here are two such approaches.
Some people get into the office and absolutely won’t feel organized till they listen to voicemail and scan emails. These folks know they can’t operate on all cylinders until they see and organize what has just come over the horizon.
Others, though, get to these two activities only because they’d feel ashamed if anyone knew they had yet to know about a memo or call. They grit their teeth, tighten up their back and sit for the first hour or two doing this task they abhor.
As odd as it may feel, it would help those in the second group to get past any self-induced shame and dive into what they normally only allow themselves to get to once “catch-up” is over.
Really? Yes. Besides money, whatever motivates them is what they need to chomp on for an hour or two, to get their brain acclimated and affirming why they are really back at work. (The other folks are just fine doing the mundane as a warmup to their soon-to-be-productive and inspired efforts.)
A changeup like this can make all the difference in the world in mindset, productivity and connectedness to your work life. Recognize which of the two groups you fit in and try the strategy. Even if you are of the first mindset, try the approach on for size if you can mentally swing it. You may learn more.
Another stress-erasing strategy is to break big work into smaller pieces. We’ve heard that before, right? The creative difference is not to add stress and scheduling to that new equation. (The point is to take both those things out of the mix, as the old recipe called for them.) Here’s how:
If you have to accomplish something by company- or self-imposed deadline, decidedly put it on your “side-desk,” so to speak (physically or figuratively). When you are restless with another task at hand and need to move toward something else to feel productive (or stay awake), it can be easily grabbed and worked on.
As a writer, I always have several pieces regularly due. Rather than start and finish any in one fell swoop (which I can do with little stress), I recently stumbled upon getting a start on four works hovering soon-to-be-due. Seeing them started, drafted out (or even just thought about with a couple notations taken down) really made me feel a sense of progress. It was nothing to pull them in and work on them; I became more motivated to see their direction take shape. The strategy was effective for me, and I likely should incorporate it more.
If you struggle with attending to tasks on dates you schedule them to be done, try the approach. Incrementally chipping away at work load, with low pressure, could indeed get you ahead of the game (in yours and your bosses’ eyes).
This strategy, too, might not be for everybody. It is worth the try, though, to see if you can make yourself work differently and whether it has an effect on your productivity. No one knows that better than you; you may surprise yourself.
Think on both examples. The key is to find a way to think about flow and ease of work schedule, rather than rigid patterns possibly not serving you well. The potential reward is more balance and satisfaction. The driving factors are doing what motivates you instead of making you feel stuck.
Stop agonizing over your work schedule. Try to arrange it to pull you forward with energy, rather than keeping you stagnant and stressed.