It’s a rare week that the plan I created on Monday morning isn’t completely rewritten by lunchtime. It’s tempting to try to follow my cat and curl up in the dark recesses of a tote bag because it can feel overwhelming. Here are three tips I use to keep moving forward with my original plan and work with the unexpected.
Limit Communication Clutter
I’ve turned off notifications and scheduled phone calls throughout my entire career. I check messages frequently, probably still as often as if there was a notification! By checking on my own terms, it allows me to limit the attention residue that action causes. My emails are sent on a 10-minute delay. This is because I almost always think of either a better way to edit my words or one piece of information I neglected to include. Keeping my messages waiting in the outbox provides a window that allows me time to return and edit my email reducing the number of messages sent back and forth.
Write Every Task
Many applications allow you to automatically turn messages into tasks. I understand how easy it makes that to add new items to your list, however the act of writing allows me to define the task so I can focus on what needs to be done and ensure I understand the steps I need to take. It’s ok to type tasks, I keep a digital master list, however it’s important to use your own words to create that list. Many applications allow you to add comments and files to a task, that’s where I’ll add the original request and extra details about it.
Review. Review. Review.
I review my day so that when I leave my desk in the evening the residue doesn’t follow me and I’m able to fully relax. My nightly review may be as simple as reading through my notes and writing a task list for the next day. By pausing to reflect the work I did that day even if it’s not what I’d planned, I can acknowledge what happened. That shifts my mindset from one of frustration that I didn’t do anything that I planned to one that recognizes other things happened.
Limiting interruptions, being thoughtful on how I define tasks, and setting boundaries to my workday is how I keep moving forward through a week that is constantly changing.