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16 May

For you who never have time to complete what you had in mind

Datum: 2012-05-16 12:00

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. 

Do this

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Now get to work on achiev­ing and com­plet­ing this new and more real­is­tic list of tasks.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.