We are a society of jugglers! We almost ALWAYS have a number of things we are working on, even if it’s in the background. We juggle, such things as: work, home, getting children to their extra-curricular activities, making sure elderly relatives are taken care of. And, within each one of these broad categories are lots and lots of subcategories that need our attention.
Technology was supposed to make our lives easier, and yet, keeping up with social media, texts and emails have become just another thing we need to juggle!
So how do you keep all the balls in the air? Here are 3 tips.
1. Create a “Brain Dump”
Getting things out of your head and onto paper (or a file on your phone/PC) can be one of the best ways to help you keep everything you are juggling straight. Some people like to do a “brain dump” every so often to get ideas, suggestions and things they have to do onto a list where they can actually see everything. This technique also helps to relieve your brain of the additional stress of trying to remember things, which will free up your brain’s resources so you can actually do
important problem solving and/or make decisions.
2. Decide Your Priorities
Once you have your “brain dump”, you can decide the best way to segregate the information. For example, you could have one list for everything (e.g., home, work) and you can set priorities based upon due dates. You can also create different lists for the different parts of your life, such as a work list that includes project deadlines, people you need to call, etc., and you can set your priorities for this portion of your life only.
Why is deciding your priorities so important? If you just have a list of tasks with no priorities, you can’t tell which items are the most important for you to complete first. Without this information, you may decide to spend your time completing a task or tasks that have little to no importance, even though those tasks may be easy or fun to do. Also, you may find down the road that you don’t have enough time to complete the important task(s) because you weren’t focused on your priorities. This can sometimes create stress and in some cases it can even have a negative financial impact.
Another important component of setting your priorities is creating a way to keep these priorities in the forefront of your mind. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Post your list with the deadlines someplace you will always see it (e.g., on the bathroom mirror, next to your computer, next to your bed).
- Schedule time in your calendar to work on your priority items.
- Setup reminders on your smartphone or calendar task program.
It can be beneficial to do more than one of the above to make sure your priority items do not get lost in the shuffle.
3. Do NOT Multi-Task
“You can do two things at once, but you can’t
focus effectively on two things at once.
Multi-tasking is a lie.”
~ Garry Keller, author of the book:
The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
Many people think multi-tasking will help to reduce or erase their feelings of overwhelm. Unfortunately, when they try to do multiple things at once, especially when these are BIG things, overwhelm coupled with multi-tasking just makes it worse.
Focusing on one thing at a time may feel like a luxury; however, you will be much more productive if you adopt this approach. Take a second to think about a time when you were super productive. Perhaps it was when you had a significant deadline looming. What did you do? My hunch is you put all the “noise” aside, told people not to bother you unless the building was on fire and went to work on the project at hand. When you have that kind of uninterrupted focus, even for a short period of time, you will accomplish much more than if you are switching between tasks. If you don’t believe me, do this simple experiment. Take an important task, find a quiet place away from distractions and interruptions (e.g., turn your phone off, turn the bell on your email off, tell people you are unavailable). Then set a kitchen timer (or your phone’s timer…they all have them!) for 20 minutes. Work only on your important task. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results!
Juggling has become a normal part of our lives. It’s important to find ways to keep all of the balls in the air without feeling completely overwhelmed. Creating lists, deciding on your priorities and NOT multi-tasking are three ways that can help!