Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time, and the slow, relentless, trickling away of the moments we have left. Because of that, I’ve warned you to curate your life and business, to ruthlessly cut away that which does not serve you.
Assuming you have done that, what about those things that remain? You’ve removed the trivial, the toxic and the useless, but there are still many calls upon your time and attention, and you may still be overwhelmed.
I get it, I really do. Just this past week I hit a wall. Came Thursday I was trying to complete two completely different sets of tasks. And when I say “completely different” I truly mean it. I was doing work for departments that are separated by brand, office, an ocean and even a language.
Both had to be completely ready by the time I went to bed Thursday, and there flat out aren’t enough hours in the work day to accomplish what needed to be done. Meanwhile my kids still needed to be fed, supervised and entertained.
It’s a damned good thing I’m a first rate multitasker.
Ha ha. Just kidding, I suck at multitasking. Actually, so do you. So does everyone. Multitasking is one of the great myths of the 20th/21st centuries. We all think we can handle multiple things simultaneously, but study, after study, upon study, backed up by study shows this to be utter crap.
We are designed to focus on one thing at a time. To quote Charles Emerson Winchester the third:
I do one thing at a time, I do it very well and then I move on.
It’s from M*A*S*H, for you young ‘uns out there and guess what? The only possible difference between him and you is how well you do it. So do one thing, do it very well, and the move on. Guess what else. That is exactly what I did to get the shitpile of work I had this week completed.
What to do
So, what do you do? You have a great big pile of things to get done, and not enough time to do them in.
What you do is take those things that are left and
- list them
- arrange them by priority
- write them down on a piece of paper
- draw a thick, heavy line across the page between numbers two and three
- cut the page along that thick, heavy line
- tape the top part (with one and two) to your computer monitor
- burn the bottom part
- do number one
- do number two
You’ve just accomplished the most important things you need to do today. Know what else? You’ve also accomplished more than probably 90% of the rest of the world.
You can only accomplish two or three big tasks a day. The key is to figure out what the two most important tasks you have to accomplish today are, and do them.
When they are done, if you have time left, do the process all over again.
If you do not have time left, well, you have still accomplished your key tasks, and you have still accomplished more than everybody else.
And there’s always tomorrow.