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Spring brings fresh starts and new beginnings, so it was very timely that I decided to take a vacation day to re-examine my goals and priorities, and spring clean my Trello boards. I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed the past few weeks, as I had been juggling a lot between my day job, volunteer work and home life.
So I first started with a “Life Repair Day” – this is something I read about last year and I have completed it a couple of times since. It is very similar to “Inbox zero” but much more. It took me two hours to complete everything on this list:
It is such a freeing feeling, getting caught up on all the little things – it really makes a difference.
Next I reviewed a system that has worked well for me in the past – I find my productivity skyrockets when I follow the very simple principles. Over the summer it is easy to fall out of good habits so I vowed to begin again – the Single Best Time Management Tip Ever.
It is called “Multiple Put Down” and you work on a task in 20-minute increments, with absolute focus, and then put it down, over and over, until you’re done. Here are the steps:
This technique will save you so much time – in three hours I was able to develop two presentations from scratch and write an article. This would have taken me a full day if I hadn’t used this strategy; having zero interruptions kept me concentrated on the task at hand.
Now that I am caught up, my mind is clear and I can refocus, instead of having that feeling of being “too busy” (I would never want to be someone who complains about how busy they are). I love what I do so I want to enjoy the ride and take it all in – being proactive in my work instead of reactive makes such an impact.
At the end of my day I made one last goal for the coming months after reading the article “Disruptions: More Connected, Yet More Alone”. The video embedded in the article really affected me, so I decided to “break free” from my smartphone and limit my usage. The article suggests that “life is better led when it is lived, rather than viewed through a four-inch screen” – this statement is so obvious, yet after watching the video I realize we are living in a culture of smartphone obsession. I plan to still take my phone with me, but I will mindfully leave it in my purse so that I can take in more of life’s moments, rather than posting a picture or video about it. I can’t imagine how this will change my life as a result.
So all in all, my vacation day was exactly what I needed to reset my priorities and get several items on my to-do list accomplished. I encourage each of you to schedule some time for yourself whenever you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or need to recharge your batteries. It is all about finding what works for you – working smarter, maximizing your time, and getting things done.
What goal-setting, prioritization and/or time management tips work best for you?
Note: This article was originally published in Canadian Government Executive in 2011 - “The Full Potential of a Day” and has been updated and adapted.