Are you in the habit of breaking your day-plan?
Do you tend to have an idea of what you want to do and complete during the day in the morning, which at lunch-time makes you feel slightly queasy with stress, and which as the after-noon rolls around appears to have been completely unrealistic?
Having a positive self-image and a belief that you are able to do what you set your mind to, is of course something positive in itself, but if the consequences of believing we are able to do more than we realistically can are that we feel disappointed or discouraged every night, then the positive, but perhaps slightly skewed, self-image isn’t serving you or your purposes.
Hence, from today and onwards, let’s lower the level of ambition.
This statement might be intimidating to those amongst us with high ambitions (such as myself). Fortunately for us, this has nothing to do with lowering your ambitions in terms of believing you are capable of less, of the quality of what you deliver and produce, the level you are creating at, or your competence.
This only intends to change and reduce your perception of how many tasks you can manage to complete in a day.
Let’s recall the old Swedish saying which translates into “He who is always greedy for more, often loses everything”. One must admit that there is a grain of truth in this statement. If our ambitions are set too high in terms of what we want to have time for, we run the risk of ruining our set agenda for the day, as well as creating stress over all the things we didn’t have time for.
If you increase your stress-levels, you also increase the risk of making mistakes, of lower quality in what you do and produce, or that you forget something which will come back to haunt you later. Instead of doing fewer things more accurately and with our full attention, we tend to do more things but too fast and not very thoroughly, which results in an absence of the effect we desired by trying to do more than we were able to truly complete.
- In the morning, list all the things you really feel you need to do today. Some people do this by noting a few keywords for these particular tasks on a separate note, even if they normally keep their to-do-list in a digital format. Some use a list-app or some form of a to-do-list-software where they highlight the tasks which you intend to do today, even if there are other tasks of which the due-date has already passed.
- Done? Good. Now postpone half of the things, perhaps leave it for another day. Cut the list in half by crossing items of the “do today”-note, remove the highlighting from the tasks in the app, et c.
Are you now thinking “Well alright, but it isn’t that easy to postpone things. If it was that simple, I would have done it long ago. Everything must be completed today.”?
OK, but if we assume that it is common, not to say inevitable, that your daily planning fails to correspond with reality, we might as well assume and accept that you will not be able to finish all these things you have intended to complete today.
Isn’t it better to at least be aware and conscious of what 50% you will actually complete, and what 50% you will have to postpone to later this week anyway, regardless of your efforts to complete them?
- Now get to work on achieving and completing this new and more realistic list of tasks.
- If it turns out that you are done with what you wanted to do before the day is over, pat yourself on the shoulder and proceed with completing other tasks, but now with a greater sense of relief and satisfaction.
- If you still do not have time for what you hoped to complete in spite of your efforts to reduce the size of the list, you will need to select even fewer tasks tomorrow.
- If you truly feel that you simply have no other option than completing all of the tasks, there are simply not enough of you. You have too much to do, so you need someone to help you. Delegate tasks to your colleagues, buy help by outsourcing tasks, or call a recruitment agency to initiate a process to hire someone to help you.
Don’t lose everything
If you accept that you will achieve less, you can be more thorough in what you choose to do. This drop in ambition in terms of quantity might very well be reflected in a significant increase in our ambition concerning the quality of what we deliver.
And as more of your day-plans hold and get completed as you intended, you will probably feel more pleased with what you accomplish, which in turn makes it easier to achieve even more in the future.
What is your method?
How do you make sure to avoiding the trap of being overly ambitious concerning what you estimate you will be able to do in a day? Leave a comment to spread your wisdom.