First and foremost, thank you so much for your prayers and support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Last week, I wrote that we have been having a really tough time with Evan. This week has been a little better, and I’m grateful for any progress. (As I write this, my husband, daughter, and Evan are dancing to “that’s the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh”. I just got finished with a horrible rendition of YMCA. But I digress…
When thinking about what was so hard for me last week, I realized that I was feeling completely overwhelmed with it all. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going! That’s when it hit me…I only have to take it one step at a time. After all, the most important step to success is the first one.
On an average day, we are bombarded with over 40,000 images and over 200 pieces of new information. We hold all of this information in our subconscious. In reality, our short term memory can only store 5-7 items at once. So when we are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s usually not that we always have SO much to do, the hard part it is trying to remember it all and keep it at the forefront of our mind. That is what creates the stress. So what do you do?
Here are 5 ways to take control of all the information, tasks, and to do’s and not get completely overwhelmed:
1. Brain Dump – At least once a day, write down EVERYTHING that you have to do. I keep a piece of paper by my bed, so if I have one of those 2:00am moments where I wake up and remember something that needs to get done, I write it down. (I can’t usually read it in the morning, but it triggers my memory).
2. Take control of technology, rather than letting it take control of you. I don’t know why, but the “You’ve got mail” notification is like crack! As soon as we see it, we have to check! Why? If something is that urgent, email is not the best way to communicate. Turn off your email reminder. If you can, dedicate a couple of times a day to check email and return voicemails. If not, you get completely sidetracked, and it takes 10-20 minutes to regain your focus every time you are interrupted. I would have laughed at you if you told me a year ago to do this. I took a class that suggested turning off the mail notification. Can you believe it, actually works!!!
3. Value your time. It is one of the only things you can’t buy, make more of, or win. You can only use the time you have as effectively as possible. Interruptions are a leading cause of lost productivity. Put your phone on “do not disturb”, close your door, or hang a sign on your cubicle. Try making a clipboard available so people can leave you a note.
4. Remember, you train people how to treat you. It is your job to help manage people’s expectations about how and when you communicate. The world will not end if you let people know that every day, you have an hour or two of uninterrupted time. If they need something, unless it is an emergency, you can help them before or after that time.
5. How do you eat an elephant? That’s right, one bite at a time. (I asked my daughter, and she responded, “Well, first you kill it, then you cook it!” Ahhh, out of the mouths of babes. Take a deep breath and work on one thing at a time. While multi-tasking may seem productive, studies have shown that continuous texting and emailing can lower your IQ twice as much as smoking marijuana. At least that’s what I was reading on my phone while driving, it was really very interesting. (Kidding!)
So next time you want to scream and pull your hair out, remember, take it one step at a time. And don’t forget how important effective communication is in managing your time. Soon, I’ll tell you how each of the behavior styles can maximize their time. In the meantime, here is a great example of miscommunication.
Make it a great week!