I have a core habit which I think can help out a lot of people dealing with the distractions and noise of today’s economy. I think of it as clearing the decks. It is the practice of finishing what I am doing to get to more important things. It’s artificial to think we can place something deemed more important right into our work list. The mindshare that the urgent takes up can easily impede our ability to focus.
For me, this may mean resolving urgent customer issues first before I work on a book or speech that requires full attention. Knocking out phone calls and emails helps me clear the decks so I can get on to other more strategic tasks. It helps me get a clear mind which is important for quality work in the next thing.
Here are some things I do to clear the decks:
- Create buckets. Things that need to be done now are put in one list. Things that can be done later are captured in other project or CRM lists.
- Get clear on next steps. I use lists to park my outstanding tasks I can’t or don’t feel like doing now. They didn’t necessarily get done, but I have peace of mind knowing I have them captured and ready for the next clearly defined step.
- Use the trash. This may be digital or material. I throw a lot away. It is a decision and a clear one. It alleviates any attachment I have to an otherwise open loop.
- Create a time limit. I like using time to drive quick action. Ten calls in 30 minutes helps me get through the list quick. It’s Parkinson’s Law used for leverage.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try clearing the decks first with the quick, easy and concrete things you need to get done. It will ready you for the more important things. The work has to get done anyways. You are just getting it done early so you don’t have to think about it later and to increase your own focus.
Let me know when you have tried it.