For a while I’ve been able to work on one thing whilst having several other things floating around my head. We’ve all tried multi-tasking but perhaps I’ve stretched that to my limit. It no longer works for me.
There are too many incomplete tasks and they are beginning to distract me so that my focus is never fully on the thing I’m doing. There is a real risk of doing several things to a lower standard rather than giving focused attention to each.
I tend to have several different lists for different parts of my life and then I often fall back on memory to help steer me forward. I recognise that I need to make changes for things to be different. I know from my counselling that if we don’t adapt when change is required then we risk making things worse or becoming unwell.
This is why I sought out ‘Free to Focus’ by Michael Hyatt. I know I will always have varied interests that stimulate me and projects at different levels of completion. How do I set limits around quantity and quality of my work? How do I incorporate my wellbeing, client work, creative output and routine tasks in the best way possible?
In his book ‘Free to Focus’ Hyatt brings together several well tested ideas. Some ideas, like making good use of sleep and creativity, I already use. There are other things however that I’ve not made decisions on which I now need to address. I can’t and shouldn’t say “yes” to everything that comes my way. Even if I am very efficient I will not be able to fit in everything, so I need to be able to say “no” to some things.
By not cutting out some things we end up with a list of things that we can never get to. But by being more realistic and making conscious choices about what goes onto our plates then things become achievable. That way things that matter, around values and goals, do not drop to the bottom, overtaken by easy tasks and distractions. The starting point, and a challenge for me, is cutting out some of the easy activities which do not align with stated goals.
But before we can cut out any extras we need to stop, decide what we want and evaluate our course.
As he suggests, big shifts can come from knowing when to automate, designate and delegate. I know that my answer lies in deciding to designate 3-5 hours at a time to big tasks (e.g. Writing or CPD) that require extended periods of focused work. Remembering to switch off notifications (constant disruptions) is another answer.
Routine is also essential, even for those of us who are self-employed creatives and often push against it. He suggests having a ritual for the start and end of each work day which then saves on the need for constant decision making and can be supported through better use of technology.
This book has inspired me to do things differently so that I can reduce overwhelm and maintain wellbeing. What about you, are you overwhelmed by it all or do you have an effective approach that leaves you fulfilled? Please share and comment.