Rewards, Reorder, Refocus — How to Get $#!% Done
Max is snoring. It’s soothing, but man am I jealous.
I started another article for this post two days ago. It’s half-outlined. The tab is still open, does that count?
I just made a cup of tea and put in some ‘mood and focus’ capsules to promote a positive mindset. It sorta tastes like dirt now.
I have 5 to-do lists I physically made on my desk (can’t even look at the virtual ones). I keep adding to them as I remember one of 5 phone calls I had today and something I need to follow-up with or agreed to do.
Did I mention it’s 9:15 pm?
I did do my dishes tonight. And I cooked a healthy dinner (Butternut squash ravioli with chicken!).
At 10 am this morning I canceled a happy hour tonight with my best friend who I haven’t seen in weeks because I knew I had deadlines I needed to meet.
Yet, here I am making lists, cleaning dishes, trying some tea, jealous of Max.
Confession: I am a procrastinator at times. I’m a high functioning procrastinator. There. I said it.
But the fact also is I thrive and love having things to do! I love saying ‘yes’ and helping people, but, what about when it makes it so I can’t function to do my own tasks?
As a content marketing, entrepreneur, business professional living in the chaotic industries we’re in, I know I’m not alone. So here’s how I reset to get back on task and always make my deadlines.
Set fake deadlines
I HATE being late. I’ll arrive and sit in the parking lot for a meeting 15 minutes early rather than risk being late.
So, I set fake deadlines, but I don’t look at them as fake… even though I know it’s fake. You follow? I look at each deadline as a competition for myself. Sure, I know when something that needs to be prioritized comes up, I can shift. But by challenging myself to always meet the initial deadline I set — when my overwhelming list starts forcing me into a click-every-where-but-you-need-to-be mode — I’m able to prioritize and know I’m not truly missing the deadline.
This was a tough lesson for me to learn. I love to say ‘yes.’ I used to say it so much that I got to the point of burning myself out. I wasn’t a ‘yes (wo)man’ in the sense of not having ideas, but if something needed doing, I love being involved!
I love helping people to succeed. I love over-delivering and beating expectations. But, that lead to me setting unrealistic deadlines — deadlines that were stretching me too thin and were a struggle to meet when anything popped up in life that wasn’t planned for.
So now I am more honest. I often find myself giving clients a range when quick tasks come up — “we’ll aim to get that to you by end of the day, but by noon tomorrow at the latest.” This gives them a good frame of when to expect the deliverable while being honest with myself that a task might take longer. This current ‘fire’ I’m putting out might get superseded by another larger fire!
Reorder my tabs
I used to have 40 tabs open at one time and it was nothing. But, playing to my competitive nature (and the whole computers don’t like to be used like such non-stop without ever having the tabs closed or being restarted…), I now only keep the tabs open that I need to do now.
Throughout the day I check-in and re-order as needed. The most right tab is always the most pressing. Then it keeps going in descending order. This works well for my brain. It gives me an organized chaos approach to prioritizing how I’ll conquer things.
I watched one episode of Friends with my ravioli tonight! I knew I had this crazy to-do list, but I had been going at actual work for 9 hours at that point. So I gave myself a reward. Instead of sitting in front of my computer and trying to type with one hand, I gave my brain a break and reward myself for that 9 hours of work already done!
Another reward? Writing this post on what I want to at this moment. I do have three pretty solid content marketing, PR, social media-related topics I want to explore. But at this moment, the only thing my brain can think about is how I need to conquer this post. And with words always being the outlet of choice (other than cookies of course!), by allowing myself to just write for 20 minutes the words that I want to write, I’m able to allow my brain to refocus.
And, a bonus point for me, knock out one of my tasks!