First things first, have you got your cuppa ready? This is the first instalment of Self Curious, a brand spanking new weekly NPW blog. It’s designed to be a snappy personal development download that doesn’t take longer to enjoy than a morning brew. Get the latest on how to get more done, forge fantastic relationships, and generally unleash more of your most awesome self at work and play.
If you always wait for the perfect moment to start, you’ll never begin at all. It’s a bit like me, sitting here on my way home after a day in the office, writing this on my phone.
When the lovely (and brilliantly productive) Emma from NPW and I agreed a weekly deadline of close on a Wednesday for my new weekly blog, I envisaged a sacrosanct hour or two on a Tuesday morning, a cloudless blue sky out of the window by my desk and a perfectly steaming mug of tea in front of me.
But, like all of us know, that’s not how it works. Here is that typical, less-than-awesome Tuesday:
I finally get the laptop to work. I check Twitter on my browser. I just checked it on my phone, but it’s different somehow on the screen. I’m about to begin, but then remember: this scenario requires tea. I can’t write without tea! I make tea. Then I think, before I start writing I’ll just double check there are no emails that need a response… six emails later, the tea’s past perfect drinking temperature, a blank word document is covered in email windows and I feel like the fate of the morning has been sealed: less than ideal.
Sound familiar? Well, enough is enough.
Today is the day we say to imperfect Tuesdays: Stop it. Just. Stop. It.
You don’t have to put the world to rights in order to Get Stuff Done. You simply have to begin.
So picture this with me: it’s Tuesday morning and you’ve arrived at work with the weight of the organisation on your shoulders. You’ve a teeming inbox, news stories that you should know about in order to do your job, and yesterday’s to-do list is not to-done.
You do your mini-ritual and grab a cuppa, but OPEN NO BROWSERS. SEND NO NON-URGENT OR NEW OFF-TOPIC EMAILS. Nada. Them’s the rules.
Then, simply, and with pen and paper, you write a three point to-do list of the three most valuable things you can do today for the good of your team. You write how many minutes you expect them to take. And you do one. Then, you have a little break – heck, you even read the Guardian headlines and make a second cup of tea – and then you do another big ticket task. Then, and only then, you skim your emails. And a magical thing happens: the emails never get the adrenaline rush they wanted to get from you after to-done number two). Task number three basically does itself, now that your large cheese of productivity is rolling down the hill.
After that, you have permission to fritter away the rest of your day to your heart’s content. You won’t, because you will feel bloody invincible.
A quick afterword about routine and feeling safe enough to be out there ticking things off your action list:
I’m not saying that by cutting right to the chase you shouldn’t have a morning routine. “Win the morning, win the day!”, the cheesy inspirational coaching posters tell us. Even if you aren’t a morning person, routines can help us focus. They make us feel safe, and get us in the zone to do amazing stuff. So don’t march up to your desk and start typing furiously with your bag still on your back or shoulder, or without saying hi to your colleagues. But accept that you will have to choose to act before you feel totally comfortable. Before you know everything – I know, horrendous. I HATE the feeling when I’m not up to speed with what’s going on.
A golden rule for anything I suggest on here: it’s worked for me and for others, but it might not work for you. I won’t be offended. The only rule is that you only get to say it doesn’t work if you’ve actually tried it. And if it just works a little bit then hey, you’ve got a little bit more amazing.
Go be awesome. See you next week!
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
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