How you approach your day when you arrive to work can set the tone for the rest of the day. Have you ever had those days that feel like there is just way too much work? Then you have another day that feels like the same amount of work
just moves along and you get things done well? I’ve had both types of days and have found to some degree I can make days that would otherwise feel overwhelming days that move much more smoothly. How you start the day can make a big difference. Here are 3 ways to start your work day but some are better than others!
Unplanned: Get Right To It
Picture a day you get to work a bit late knowing you have a busy day ahead of you. You know you need to get a lot accomplished today so you are already a bit on edge and feeling the need to jump right in and get things done.
Jumping right in may feel like the best thing to do at times like this but actually getting started without a clear picture of what needs to get accomplished can cause increased stress.
I’ve found nearly every time I have a day like this if I don’t make a plan for my day of some type and just start working I constantly feel stress and anxiety through the day. There has to be a better way, right?
Task-Driven: Make a List and Check It Off
On some of those busy days I’ve managed to force myself to jot down a quick to-do list to check off as I go. This is a great step toward organizing and structuring your day. It can give you a feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
While this is better than an unplanned day it does have some inherent negatives. One big one is the negative psychological effect it has when you get to the end of your day and still have tasks left on your to-do list. This can leave you feeling guilty about not completing the day even though you probably got a lot more done than you would have by approaching the day without a plan.
Don’t get me wrong, a to-do list is not a bad thing. It is far better than just jumping right in without a plan at all. But there is something even better yet.
Project-Driven: Blocking Off Time Slots for Work
A project-driven approach to your day takes a step back from the simple to-do list to get a bigger picture of your projects that extends beyond just today or tomorrow. I’ve found when I work off of to-do lists only I don’t have a good feel for the overall status of all the projects I’m working on at my fingertips. And I feel I have even less control over moving important projects forward at the speed needed as deadlines approach.
When I start my day using the project-driven model I look over my projects at a high-level and determine what projects need the most work right now. This decision is a mix of project importance, due date, amount of time available, mental focus state, etc.
I block off time for each of the identified projects, an hour for one, a half hour for the other, two hours for the next, something like that. I don’t really think about the tasks related to that project at this point just that I know work needs to be done on the project.
Once the time slot comes up for the specific project that is when I pull up all the tasks for it and work on what I can get done during the allotted time. When the time slot is up I set the project aside and move to the next one.
At the end of the day I feel a much better feeling of accomplishment than from my simple to-d0 list approach.
I have not seen very many programs on the market that do a good job of creating a project-driven plan for my day. I’ve looked for several years so I decided it was time to make one! The program is currently in development and should be ready for release soon. If you would like to be notified once the On-Track Projects program is released you can sign up here and I’ll let you know once its ready so you can check it out.