Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley” For those of you who don’t speak Scots, it is “The best laid plans of mice and men Go often awry”.
Isn’t that the truth? So often you make plans on what you will accomplish (your task list), perhaps even setting aside blocks of time (your calendar), just to see it get blown to bits by an unexpected occurrence.
It happens, and that is life.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover from it quickly and get back on track.
It happened to me in the past month. A product release for our client, safely in the hands of the development team and the offshore component, came crashing into my lap. I normally don’t deal with software until after it has been released. But everyone (and I mean everyone, including VPs and directors) were dragged into this project to finish it up. (I won’t spell out why, but let’s just say that this has confirmed my views that off-shoring does not work.) Anyway. Rant over.
So for the last four weeks I have been working way more than my normal hours, going in early, working through lunch, working at home at night. Which would be fine if all I had to do was work. But at the end of the time period, I looked around, realized my plans were in shreds and many things I had intended to do were left undone.
So what is a productive person to do?
Let Go Of The Week You Want To Have
We all know the things we want to do. And I have seen, time and again, (myself included) that we think we can somehow plow through with our plans regardless of what else is going on.
The secret to getting back on schedule, though, is to let go of what you wanted to do, and accept that it is not going to happen that way.
Plan For The Day You Have
If you know that you will be disrupted ahead of time, plan accordingly. I like to lay out my week so I can see what is coming at me. But during times of schedule interruption, this should be done day-by-day.
Lay out what is going on for a single day, then figure out what else you can get done. If you’re in a crunch and the answer to that is “nothing” than go with it.
I use my Weekly Planner Version 2 to lay out my week and set targets. It gives me the ability to see from day to day what is coming at me, along with the things I would like to get done.
Get Back On Track
Planning for the day you will have is great, but if you are blindsided by something and facing a mountainous task list, you need to get back on track.
The first step is to get rid of everything that does not absolutely have to get done. Most task lists have things on them that we would like to do, but don’t have to be done.
Go through the list and remove those that aren’t due right now. (You can always come back to them later).
If something has to be done, ask if it has to be done right now. Sometimes tasks can be put off for a few days without any consequences.
Go through your list and ask if the task has to be done immediately. If not, move it to another day.
Next ask if the task can be done by someone else. Delegating can be difficult, but it can lighten the load.
Go through your list and ask for help with tasks. Just remember, when delegating, you can ask for certain dates or certain ways of doing things, but it isn’t given that you will get them.
With a cleaned-out task list and an map for the next day, it is very easy to get through times when the plans go awry.
Photo by ejhogbin