Make Less Decisions
One of my themes for this year is 'make less decisions'. Scientists say that every decision you make saps a little bit of energy from your body. Say you're trying to avoid donuts. If the first thing you see when you wake is a donut, then it's pretty easy to make the decision not to eat the donut. But by the time mid-morning comes, and you've made decisions about what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what route to go to work, what work to do and when to do it, and whether you're going to return your accountant's call, avoiding the donut becomes harder. And by mid-afternoon - well, we've all been caught by the combination of the 4pm slump and available donuts (I think we all have anyway, it might just be me!).
The secret, they say, is to make the decisions ahead of time, when you're not in the situation where you have to make the decision. So instead of deciding at 3.55pm whether to have the donut or not, you decide Sunday night 'this week, I'm not eating donuts'. When you get presented with one at 4pm on Thursday, there's no willpower involved, you already made the decision.
So, what's this got to do with work? We're all trying to be more productive and to do less of the things which we're not supposed to be doing. When we say 'focus on your priorities', we know that it's hard. When you have some free time, which you could use on your priorities, there's all sorts of other things calling to you - email, phone calls, Facebook. And, because you've made decisions all day, your deciding muscles are tired, and it's easy to give in to short term, quick win work.
That's why putting your priorities on your calendar ahead of time works. Look at your calendar three weeks from now. We'll bet there's very little on it. Allocate some time to your priorities - decide exactly what you're going to in that time NOW. When it comes to it, you'll have already made the decision, and it'll be much easier to avoid the distractions.
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