I hate days where it’s 2:30 and you’ve just mentally checked out. They’re awful. There’s a quote I really like from Jim Rohn that says, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” I find that my best days are the ones where I have a set agenda for myself. I’m running the day. The 2:30 slump days are typically the ones where I’m just reacting to e-mails that flood my inbox, aka the day is running me.
I’ve been trying out a few strategies lately to make sure that I keep running my days instead of the other way around. A few that have been working well include:
- Spend some time dreaming: When I’m eating breakfast, I write out a list that I call my “Scheming and Dreaming” list. On it I jot down long and short-term goals, ideas I’ve got kicking around in my brain, projects I’d like to spend time on, and other things that aren’t immediate, ASAP tasks, but still have value. It’s easy to get so focused on your “to do” list that you don’t let yourself have any time to dream, but there’s value to letting your mind wander.
- Pick the three most important things that need to get done that day: When I’m feeling especially overwhelmed, I pick three tasks that, without question, must get done that day. This helps me to focus my energy, plus it allows me to gauge my productivity throughout the day.
- Use your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature: When I’m writing, I get distracted when I hear my phone buzz as text messages and e-mails come in. To stop this from breaking up my work flow, I set my phone on Do Not Disturb and only turn it off when the project I’m working on is done. Uninterrupted thinking time is essential, and we often don’t let ourselves have it. It’s hard to pump out quality work when we’re typing three sentences, then checking our inbox, then sending a text, and then writing another sentence or two.
- Do a “post-mortem” at the end of the day: At the end of each day, I do a what I call a “post-mortem” recap of the day that I title “Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going.” On it I write down the tasks that I accomplished that day, as well as what I still have left to get done. It helps me stay focused, but it also makes me feel good when I see everything I took care of that day.
Do you have any techniques you use to make sure you’re running your day instead of the other way around? I’d love to hear them! Tell me about them in the comments.