Attention + Intention = NO Tension

attention-pleaseInformation overload is distracting everyone. We are all busier than ever and constantly attempting our best to satisfy connections on an escalating level of immediacy. If you are always available to everyone else, when are you truly available to yourself? Does your calendar include space for YOU? If your response to that has anything to do with wishing for an 8th day of the week, then it is clearly time to put the brakes on and give yourself a real break.

We are each allotted 168 hours in a week. Some things are not negotiable. Assuming that work/commute can take up to 60 hours, sleep another 50 hours, general daily life activities are an additional 30 hours and we are still reasonably left with 25 hours. How intentional are you with that time? Does it melt into recovery from the overstimulation of your daily routine or do you designate specific periods to activities you enjoy and feed your soul?

According to Linda Stone, blogger and former Microsoft executive, we pay “continuous partial attention” as we skim furiously, hoping not to miss anything. We multi-task frantically yet the “to-do” list takes on a life of its own, morphing into an out of control, anxiety producing document, further proof of our inability to manage life as we should.

Not so fast with the blame game and impossible comparisons to what we assume other people are accomplishing in the fantasy life we have constructed for them. The turning point for a client was driving away from her favorite coffee shop and not realizing that her special latte had taken a nosedive from the roof of her vehicle miles earlier. She had been more attentive to her cell phone than to her unique AM caffeinated order kick start and more importantly, to her own safety! Together we created a preliminary plan to identify the habits that drove her multi-tasking engine and ways to modify those behaviors.

• Pre-plan your day the night before
• Prioritize. Take on the most challenging task first. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and more energy to attack whatever is next.
• Schedule a break that includes some change of geography; a quick walk, a short phone call to a friend, or enjoying a beverage of choice
• Most importantly, staying in the present focuses your attention on what you are doing NOW through its completion. Remember, multi-tasking can take up to three times longer to finish the same task.

©MWeisner2017

10 Daily Time Saving Tips

timesavingtipsWith a variety of tasks and deadlines to meet, how can you accomplish these goals more efficiently? No matter your business or profession, who couldn’t benefit from quick tips to save time. Below are 10 tips to accelerate your process and streamline a plan of approach.

1. Set Goals
Each morning, write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish that day.

2. Create a Plan
Figure out when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list. Will you need help, supplies, etc.?

3. Prioritize by Importance
It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll have to delete items from your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize.

4. Prioritize by Urgency
You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines so leave the ones that are due next week for later.

5. Break Down Large Tasks
If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

6. Be Realistic
Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Know your limitations and your abilities.

7. Track Your Time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and record everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, e-mail, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.

8. Set Deadlines
Need some motivation to complete a project? Set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.

9. Keep One Eye on the Clock
You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.

10. Set Reminders
If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly beforehand.

©MWeisner2017

Getting Things Done = Freedom!

imagesCAUIW14S“Taking on new projects is not necessarily a positive change. It may be a sign of recklessness and non-fulfillment. But going back to all the levels of non-completion and completing them is a sign of positive change.” – John Roger

How many lists do you have? Are they short and long term, numbered and highlighted in order of importance? Are they color coded? Has their creation and maintenance taken on a life of its own? Are you living with annoying post-its everywhere that only increase your level of anxiety and multiply mysteriously? Does it feel like you are pushing back the ocean, while conflicted about this selfish waste of paper or electronic data? Are these overwhelming and unproductive activities? Non-completion takes up a great deal of psychic space, often accompanied by finger wagging and other judgmental posturing and is very taxing.

According to David Allen,” Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement or negotiating it.”

Begin by clearing out and collecting your thoughts, assessing each one for importance and then review your options. Here is a 3-step approach that can get you out of being stuck and on the road to taking charge.

1. Find your preferred method of recording information. Take 5-minutes and dump everything that pops into your head. Do not censor or evaluate, just write!
2. Assess each particle. What’s the next action? What will you commit to?
3. Which things will you do in order of  time, place and importance?

A constant part of worry is the nagging feeling that there is always something else to be managed. While that may be true, for now you have cleared out the cobwebs and dumped the brain drains to a place where they can be seen and not just heard.

• Make your list
• Dig deep…no self-censoring
• Notice how it feels different than usual

©MWeisner2017

The STOP “To-Do” LIst

imagesCAUIW14SHow many lists are you actively working on today? Most of us have multiples from daily lists to long term/big-project versions. According to author, Barbara Alevras, our short term memory starts to empty out in 10-15 seconds, so unless it’s recorded somewhere, the thought is likely gone and may be replaced with generalized anxiety about missing something.

With various forms available to capture tasks, yours may be the old school, long hand version in addition to notes on your phone or the spread sheet you keep updating but not reducing. Some are handy and invaluable uses of technology to keep you on task, but the flip side is the constant reminder that you are NEVER getting it all done, merely making a dent in the onslaught of actions that realistically may or may not be important after all.

For clients who are feeling overwhelmed there are various strategies that may be useful.

• If your list is of the “forever” version, break it down into short and long term and limit the number to FIVE entries in each. This may be a challenge, but it does help to prioritize. Think of it as the single piece of luggage you are permitted to board with.

• If accomplishment is important to you, include even the most mundane activities under a broader header so that crossing off many tasks keeps your motivation high. For example, if GET HEALTHY is your long term goal, you might include, eating breakfast, shopping for groceries, gym time, etc. This can serve as a daily guide, and create new habits to support you.

• However, if you find yourself bogged down in busyness, eliminate this “expanded” list creation as it can be a slippery slope to a lot of action without moving forward. Test it out to see what works best for you.

• Reflect on your successes and SHRED your list at the end of the day…no carry-overs are permitted. Tomorrow is another day!

©MWeisner2015

10 Time Saving Workday Tips

how-to-time-management-300x2251. Set Goals
Each morning, write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish that day.

2. Create a Plan
Determine when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list – will you need help, supplies, etc.?

3. Prioritize by Importance
It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll have to cut items off your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize.

4. Prioritize by Urgency
You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines so leave the ones that are due next week for later.

5. Break Down Large Tasks
If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

6. Be Realistic
Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Know your limitations and your abilities.

7. Track Your Time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and write down everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, email, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.

8. Set Deadlines
Need some motivation to complete a project? Set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.

9. Keep One Eye on the Clock
You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.

10. Set Reminders
If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly before.

Attack the Hardest or Easiest Tasks First?

458You glance at your to-list and it’s overwhelming. Your initial thought might well be to run through the easiest, yet time consuming actions first. These may feel like many small annoyances; t he call you need to return or the quick review of a client project. Yes, we all know how good it feels to check off multiple tasks, send those e-mails out and lo and behold, your morning is gone. Instant gratification is seductive and the busyness feels like you are engaged in a series of worthy accomplishments. After all, these things need to be addressed and you are fresh in the A.M. However, according to Piers Steel, PhD, Professor at the University of Calgary and an expert on motivation and procrastination, this approach wastes your prime performance hours. “People have more attention and focus in the morning, so tackle the hard stuff first, while you have the most energy to do it.” As the day continues our energy is depleted, there are other demands on our time and so the list gets carried along with new additions.

Let’s try another slant on your typical plan of action. Getting started is key and tweaking your approach helps. Begin with a challenging chore that can be handled quickly. Like suiting up for a run or diving into cold water, the first few moments may feel awful but your body quickly adjusts and you are on your way, invigorated as you move. The same can be said for your to-do list actions as momentum takes over it helps you make more progress. How satisfying is it to cross things off your list, both major and minor and relax, if only for a moment of reflection.

• What’s you favorite approach?
• How successful has that been?
• What are you willing to change?
• Renumber your list for tomorrow, adding a challenging chore first

©MWeisner2015

 

 

Precrastination

When I first came upon the word, precrastination, I assumed that it was a misspelling. Intriguing as it might be, it sounded like another New Age dictionary term desperately trying to gain acceptance in the vernacular. No, it is a real term, a verb, birthed from a Psychological Science Journal study and has been defined as follows: “To jump into a task without thinking it through, simply to cross it off a list.”

Who operates this way, even if only on occasion? Guilty, guilty, guilty! I was not the student who jumped into the term paper before the professor finished explaining the requirements, but I was the lab partner who raced into the experiment prematurely, causing overall delay. How many of us replace avoidance with early action just to get it over with?

Who doesn’t sometimes prefer to DO rather than THINK? There is satisfaction from completing a task and getting it out of the way, however, it can be at your own peril. Quickly checking off rote tasks is one thing, but finishing the project before knowing the details may mean more work ahead. Getting on the road before your GPS reveals the route might prove to be wasted time, and worse, having to listen to the recalculate directives. It almost makes procrastinating more appealing!

• S L O W down- notice your natural tendencies
• Weigh the importance of the task at hand
• Gather the information you need, timetables, ingredients, etc. before jumping in

 

©MWeisner2014

REDO Your To-Do List

Long-To-Do-List-shutterstock_106155491-e1350582020988You probably use some version of a to-do list. They seem look a good idea, but they simply catalogue tasks yet don’t help you accomplish them.

If all you do is make lists of the projects you need to finish, odds are good they will remain unfinished far longer than you like. Decades of research on goal pursuit shows that when it comes to execution, there are 2 major pitfalls that keep us from doing the things we intend to do.

1. We aren’t specific enough about exactly what needs to happen. There are actions we must take to reach our goals. If your goal is be healthier, you must break that down into component actions, like walking every day for 30-minutes at 7AM, packing a gym bag the night before M/W/F, eating breakfast, etc. So, to-do lists CAN work, if they contain specific actions.

2. The problem that lists don’t solve is finding the opportunity to take action.
• Did you really have NO time to work on that project today?
• No chance at any time to return that phone call?
You probably had the time but were preoccupied with something else or simply forgot.

Achieving any goal means grabbing hold of those opportunities before they slip through your fingers. One solution is IF-THEN planning. Not only decide WHAT you need to do but WHEN and WHERE you will do it in advance. So, if ____ occurs, then I will ____.
For example: When it’s 3PM today, then I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and work on that project. If it’s M/W or F, then I’ll go to the gym before work.

This kind of planning trains your brain to be ready for a certain action at a certain time. On an unconscious level, you are scanning your environment, waiting for the situation, 3PM to occur, so you are much more likely to notice 3PM when it happens and seize the opportunity to take the action you included in your plan.

With each action on your to-do list, add a when and a where. You can transfer your to-do list to your calendar/phone/device- just be sure to pair WHAT you need to do with the details about when and where you’ll do it.

MINI-Plan The Power of Habit

1. Create a routine- teach your brain a routine

2. Set small goals- habit formation is built on small wins

3. Choose a reward- you’re training yourself to associate a behavior with something you enjoy

4. Write it down- Identifying your routine significantly increases the chance that a habit will take hold

ACTIONS:
What’s one goal to focus on today and break it down into components?
Share with your group > accountability