We have all heard the saying “two steps forward, one step back” that is used to describe adverse situations where we feel we are making little progress or that we have to constantly back track. I think it is about time that we take that negative Mind Set and turn it on its head.My new motto for when I feel like I am going in circles is to take one step back so that I can take two steps forward.
We can often find ourselves knee deep in a project, thinking that we are moving pretty steadily, only to look up and realize we are drowning. Other times we can stare at the same document for an hour and rewrite the same sentence over and over. This can create a high amount of anxiety and stress which causes us to spin our wheels even faster. Today’s multitasking adds a whole new level to the stress and anxiety as we find ourselves being buried alive by all we have not been able to get done. When you feel yourself loosing ground, or you feel that you are being overwhelmed, stop right where you are and take a step back.
Taking a step back can be as simple as going for a coffee break, stepping out of your office to see what others are doing (I call this Office De-Isolation) and visiting your favorite entertainment website. It can be as involved as going for a walk, getting others to give you their input on what you are working on, or putting the project aside completely and redressing your task list.
Keeping a Task List is a good habit to get into. A task list, however, is not a grocery list. Your items should be assigned priorities and time expectations. If you place all of your tasks on the same priority and do not define time expectations, you end up with a grocery list of tasks that will have you bouncing from one aisle to another. Here is an example of a Priority and Time Defined Task List:
-Finish report on Email Marketing – 1 hour
-Send Steven final results chart – 5 minutes
-Follow up with Sarah on Google Ad – 30 minutes
-Update the domain reg info for corp site – 15 minutes
-Email 808 contract to Mr. Johnson – 5 minutes
-Have meeting with Dev Dept. on Q.C. – 2 hours
-Call Mike about Friday Appointment – 10 minutes
-Send Jenn the new Contract template -5 minutes
-Fax accounting the tax end, signed – 10 minutes
-Check out the new Google Browser – 30 minutes
-Write documentation on LP Integration – 1 hour
-Talk to Amy about the Quarterly Final – 30 minutes
-Finalize plans with Jack for next Tuesday- 10 minutes
If you look at the example, you can see some task will be quicker to finish than others, and I can easily focus on the Important Tasks first. I can easily take a step back, then come back and either re prioritize my list or finish off a few of the smaller time tasks which moves me a few steps forward. Once you start doing this, you will see how much more productive you can make your day, while at the same time how less stressful your day is.