Plan on Monday’s? You’re Already Behind

Being busy is BS anymore; everyone claims to be busy. Some say busy people get more done. That’s crap, too! If you’re spending too much time at work, finding yourself in too many meetings, dealing with urgencies and emergencies more frequently, feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, then this article is for you. When you embrace the concept of your week begins on Thursday, you’ll find yourself more productive and effective, less stressed and have an improved ability to focus on the most important issues.

In over thirty years, I’ve yet to find a business professional who eagerly attacks Monday’s with enthusiasm and vigor. Advance planning helps reduce the Monday am stress many of us feel. I have a client who insisted on this mindset, “…but my work changes on a dime every 4 hours there’s something new” until we were able to break through several obstacles.

At some point you need to stop what’s not working for you to get ahead of the impending stress you’ve established and perpetuate for yourself. Ask yourself why you justify this type of behavior. You may need to plan for urgencies and emergencies if that’s the environment you work in. Perhaps improving your routine is what’s required. If your am routine is stifling or hurting you, then you should right the ship to a more efficient and then more effective routine.

There’s 10 Advance Planning Steps to eliminate overwhelm by beginning your weekly planning on Thursday. Here’s  4 of them: Environment, Behaviors, Boundaries and Value, and 2 Life Hacks that’ll change your game!

“…but my work changes on a dime every 4 hours there’s something new. “

Environment. You’ve heard me say it for years, there’s a specific alignment in order to get the results you need personally and professionally. It all starts with environment. We all work and live in an environment that’s either healthy and positive, neutral and linear, or negative and stressed. If you have a safe environment, one that’s free from recriminatory behaviors from those you work or live with, then you’re likely to at least have a neutral, non-stressed situation. Shawn Achorshares the happy secret to a better work environment. The environment we accept makes it difficult to stay organized, because the climate isn’t condusive. Living and creating the right environment will provide a consistent level of success every day. To get you to the right behaviors, we must first get our environments right.

And yes, we are talking about your office and your desk. Some people thrive in a place for everything and everything in its place, and some thrive in the world of Pigpen-induced-glorious-chaos. I’m not telling you how you should do anything. What will improve your efficiency and effective use of time and thus, reducing overwhelm? Get your crap in order! What other office distractions exist for you? How easy is it to find critical, key and general information and files in your office (there’s three thoughts to help you prioritize) whether they’re digital or analog?

Your environment should involve things you like to do or items to improve your physical and mental well being – walk around the block, take your coffee on the patio or deck without technology. Start here: Get your Environment right so you can then get on with the right behaviors.

Behaviors. This step is relatively easy to explain, challenging to change and difficult to master, which is why many people fall short by themselves (there’s another subliminal hint for you). What will you Stop doing to better control your time? What will you Start doing to better control your time? Here’s an example. A baseball player who gets 8 hits in 30 at bats has a .267 batting average. If Sluggo gets one more hit, he’s now a .300 hitter and likely on SportsCenter. If Sluggo is really on his game and gets two extra base hits, he’s batting .333, is now a multi-millionaire being interviewed on SportsCenter regularly. Can you get one, maybe two more base hits next week?

Find one, maybe two behaviors if you’re really eager to Stop doing to better control your time. Find one, maybe two behaviors if you want to be on SportsCenter to Start doing to better control your time. Maybe it’s getting out of bed 30 minutes earlier, setting your clothes out the night before and not picking up your iPhone immediately upon waking up are three simple ones that come to mind. There are two critical points to make here about behaviors, 1) you cannot change anyone, 2) you need AAA’s and I don’t mean batteries. AAA stands for – Awareness, Avoidance, and Alternatives:

  • Awareness of the bad behaviors to stop,

  • Avoid the bad behaviors, and

  • Alternatives to deploy once you catch yourself drifting to the Dark Side.

We can all stop, start, do more and do less ‘stuff’, but we will ALL revert back to our bad behaviors once we add stress to the mix. Just like any perishable skill, you WILL revert back to the level of proficiency you have mastered under stress! ANSWER: find 3-5 allies, friends, colleagues, accountability partners, whatever you want to call them – find them – get a buddy or 3. Capture at least ONE bad behaviors to stop and ONE behavior to adopt. Share these with your buddy and have them score you on how you’re doing every couple weeks, and maybe you’ll be on SportsCenter.

Once you get your environment right, you earn the right to get the right behaviors. Get the behaviors right so you can get the right productivity. When productivity becomes sustainable you’ll earn the results you must have

Boundaries. These are guidelines, rules or limits you create to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards you and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. You cannot be effective or successful without proper boundaries. What boundaries do you need to set? You’re going to have to establish or re-establish boundaries by making a request to someone. You need to know what objections they will raise, how to handle those objections and why they will agree. And you need to time define it or you’ll never follow through.

Here are some thoughts to consider. One of your biggest time killers is interruptions. Some are true and real and others are like “drive by shootings,” which you can do without; for instance, excessively checking emails or texts. A recent study showed the average working American checks their phones more than 50 times each day. Would you like to recoup those 16 days of your year? How can you set boundaries about these or other time wasters, or non-urgent requests that can be scheduled? What are some things you can stop doing? What conversations do you need to have to set boundaries here? Who can help you keep low-priority events off your calendar, or deny access to? Without proper boundaries you’ll flounder and not attain the productivity you must have.

Strategic Value. Face it, you’re in your role today, because you mastered some skill or benefit to your employer. Congratulations, the goal post has just been moved again for you. Want to know why your overwhelmed? That’s why! Take heart, now you can change the game by benefiting your employer while garnering peace of mind for yourself. When we say prioritize, we’re not talking about A1-A3 tasks. Begin at the end and work your way to the hunks and chunks that energized you before you were bumped up or given that great “opportunity.” There are no more “to do” lists. Change the mindset to what Daniel Pink calls a Done List.

How productive would you feel if you set one audacious personal goal for the month and attack it voraciously to motivate yourself and commit to its pursuit and attainment. What are you doing to prioritize the work from a high-level? To have the right rhythm for your life, you must take time to strategically look at what’s important to you – professional, personal, health, wealth, spiritual, family, recreation, etc. Before you answer with some whiny-ass excuse about why you can’t or won’t, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What tasks are not of high strategic value, but I spend lots of time doing?

  2. What tasks could I and likely should be doing instead?

  3. What are some ideas to stop doing the lower-value task?

  4. What are some ideas to schedule more time for the higher-priority tasks?

Want to be more productive? Then get your environment right. Get the environment right to get the right behaviors. Get the behaviors right to be productive. Get your productivity right and THEN you’ll get the results you must have to be successful. Certainly, all of these thoughts and ideas can be accommodated on any day of the week. I suggest Thursday as it allows you to get ahead of the historical and sometimes hysterical issues you face every Monday. Instead of ‘just dealing with it’, or being proactive or preventive, get predictive so you are taking back some control of your life. Leadership is anticipation for those who have the courage.

Two Thursday Life Hacks  + Two Gamechangers:

Process. As Nick Saban is famously known for the phrase, “…it’s a process…” you, too can establish a process that elevates your performance and the performance of those around you. Isn’t that what a leader does? They make those around them better. Start with which processes cause you to be a firefighter rather than a fire marshall, and how can you fix the root cause of these fires? How and by when can you systematize these processes or make them more automatic? Which processes have too many hand-offs, backlogs, and errors?  What else can you do to redesign key processes?

Reconnect. Set up “reconnections.” These are not Starbucks meet’n greets. These are reconnecting opportunities with people you were once close to, but something happened along the way. Get together and have non-business conversations. Talk about life, people and build a relationship if not a friendship. Isolation and inactivity kill every relationship, and at the end of your career all you will have are those relationships you formed…you better get busy before it’s too late!

Take 5 for Gratitude. Send a note, a letter, an email (not a text) to 3 people who you’re grateful for their friendship or acquaintance every week and work towards every day. Watch your world change.

Take Time to Recharge. Covey called it Sharpen the Saw. Musashi was quoted saying, “from one thing, know ten thousand things. To know ten thousand things, know one well.” Carve out time every couple of days on your calendar – take time out to enjoy external inspiration and motivation.

I hope you received value from this article and others like it on our website at The Culture Whisperer. I invest much of my time with Executives, Business Professionals and Professional Athletes on their performance, communication, engagement and strategic issues. If you’d like to know more about the conversations I have and how to uncover the best that’s inside you, call me +1 205-482-2177 or send me an email.

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