Stop doing the thing you see first on your laptop/phone. Stop starting the day with what everyone else wants to tell you (i.e., email). This makes your day reactionary not proactive. You may have a job that requires you to know what everyone else needs but get savvy about this (see strategy number 2).
Otherwise, this is 1 reason you get to the end of the working day (week) with your to do list unfinished but everyone else happy!
By nature of being human you want people to like you, we all do. It’s written into our ancient Cave human DNA – this means we often prioritise others needs over our own. It’s good for making you feel appreciated and loved but bad for your performance and productivity. If you work alone or with a team, make sure you have a communication policy that enables quiet sessions so you can power on.
Did you know that when you complete things on your to do list, your brain gets a hit of good feel chemicals? This is why many write a list (See strategy 4 on why it may be not working for you and how to fix it). Think of your day and ask yourself where will there be time to be quiet and take highly focused action?
When you create a communication policy you are writing a document that encourages high performance and good working practices (this is a written document for many of my clients that enables large teams to work in various ways that are most responsive to the individual but with the organisation at its heart). However, a communication policy is nothing without communicating it exists and honouring the boundaries it creates.
So how in your working day do you impose boundaries on you, your time, your communication, email, social media, interaction, etc to ensure you perform to a high standard? List them. Is it going to give you the discipline and organisation your week needs?
Many people love lists, as already touched on this is often to give a sense of achievement. If you are achieving the same things every day, then it’s not working. If you are picking up the big evil, “I really don’t want to look at that” document/email/letter/form then you are giving your brain a powerful message that says, “we can achieve anything!”
Did you know the jobs you love take longer and the jobs you loathe take less time? That’s the perception of reality in action. So, your to do list needs to be strategic to work with the intricacies of the way the mind likes to think and work;
You want to create an automatic response in your brain so that when you do certain actions, your brain gets this boost of knowledge that “We are going to perform!” To start the week motivated it’s not just about caffeine.
What would give your brain the mental stimulation that you are about to perform to a high standard?
I estimate that at least 50 companies I worked with last year complained they hated Monday meetings. “Ergh, I know I’ve a mountain of jobs on my desk and I’m sat in a boring meeting that has nothing to do with me!” was often a retort I heard. Change your way of communicating with your team and making things flow well. I could write a book on high performing meetings, but here’s a few thoughts to get you started;
The start of the week will benefit from 5 to 10 minutes where you stop. To do this effectively, it could be mindfulness or meditation. Taking 5 minutes to watch the birds in the garden, or just sit and zone out. A walk to work where you don’t have headphones in or your phone in hand. Just notice the world around you. Simple mindfulness processes that I teach don’t need an empty mind and an hour of yoga. If they are done well, it’s a quick way to help your mind start the week raring to go.
What these processes do is allow your brain to start the week calmly, which means it has spent the weekend subconsciously considering what you left on your desk, and that means your brain can come up with ideas often without your input at all. So, stop and start calmly, not with everyone else’s priorities, actions and needs first.