Welcome back, dear reader, and please excuse the delay between posts. My regular ‘day job’ has been extremely busy these last few months leaving little time for myself, family and blogging. It’s not uncommon for life to sometimes get in the way and interfere with your best intentions to plan for the other areas of your life. Many productivity and goal planning tips are based on the premise of proactively planning to make sure you stay focused and take action on your highest priorities every day. Well, what if you have other mandatory responsibilities—like work—dominating your time and attention so you’re too busy to plan? What do you? What do you do?!
Like many of you, I could be juggling multiple projects at one time as well as working on goals I’ve set myself and the only way to stay on track is to proactively plan. Unfortunately over the last few months, I’ve been swamped at work trying to pick up the slack after an abrupt decrease in staff. While I would prefer to spend my time writing blogposts and filming videos, the fact is I have to focus on work because it pays the bills and then give what little time I have left over to spending time with my family. As a result, I’ve barely had time to focus on pre-planning any side projects because I’ve been in ‘reactive-mode’. Instead of my usual routine of taking time each week to review, reflect, and plan, I’ve been ‘winging it’ because anything I had planned for the day either kept changing or fell to the wayside. So what are 5 things you can do to stay on top of your priorities when you are too busy to plan?
Step 1: Find a Sliver in Time
In the last few months, I’ve barely had any free time after work, been too mentally exhausted to focus on anything creative, and before I knew it, it was the next day. Keeping up this ‘break neck’ pace is not good for the mind so I try my hardest to find time—even if it’s 5 minutes, hopefully more!—to close my eyes and try to relax. Sometimes it’s between conference calls, while grabbing a cup of coffee, or those rare moments when there’s no one around and I have my office to myself. Regardless of what’s happening throughout the day, it’s essential to find a sliver in time to give your mind the opportunity to stop and recharge.
Step 2: Take a Peek
While you may not have time to plan things out on paper, you HAVE to make time to take a quick peek at your planner at least once a day. Why? To see if you have any important appointments, events, or high priority tasks to take care of during the day. Whether you do it the night before or first thing in the morning, the one thing you cannot do is ‘drop the ball’ on anything important because if you think you’re stressed now, that’s nothing compared to having to deal with a crisis on top of everything else!
Step 3: Take Note
If anything important or significant happens throughout the day that you have to remember for future reference or keep track of as part of an important project, WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY. It doesn’t have to be anything long or elaborate, just a quick note like ‘Insurance payment posted’ or ‘Received lab results’ is sufficient so at least you have a record of what happened. Trust me, you’ll feel much worse and lose control very quickly if you find yourself unprepared in an important situation. I always keep my planner by my side to jot things down quickly. In the rare case that it’s not within arms length, I’ll grab the nearest post-it, write it down, and stick it in my planner later to make sure I have a record of anything I might need in the future. Whatever your method for recording information—your smartphone, a piece of paper, or your planner—just write it down!
Step 4: Honor Your Commitments
Along with Step 2—peek at your planner so you know the ‘game plan’ for the day—don’t forget to continue writing down any NEW appointments, deadlines, or future events. If it’s important enough to schedule amidst your crazy day, then it’s important enough remember. Jot it down as soon as possible to make sure it doesn’t fall thru the cracks!
Step 5: Baby Steps
Lastly, if you HAVE to work on something big or important but you keep putting it off because you’re just not finding the time in your day that you need, split it up into smaller tasks and try to complete a task every day. For example, I used to batch write my blogposts. Now, I have to spread it out over several days: I’ll think of a topic one day, write a draft the following day, take pictures on the next, and give it a final review and schedule it on the last day. So, yes, it’s taking me longer and sometimes I may have to wait a few days to complete the next step, but at least I’m getting it done—by the way, a very special ‘Thank you!’ to all my readers for your patience and support! 🙂 If you have a task or project and just can’t find the total amount of time needed to get it done during the day, break it up into smaller tasks and take a ‘baby step’ each day—or whenever you can—until it’s all done.
For many people, these tips may seem like common sense but when you’re in the ‘eye of the storm’ it can be hard to think clearly and remember the simplest of things. That said, don’t stress! I’m a huge believer that if you keep your cool, everything will work out fine. Remind yourself that you are working hard, doing the best you can, and THAT is good enough. If you trim down your planning routine to these 5 steps, you can at least stay on top of anything important and avoid any mishaps until you have the opportunity to resume ‘proactive-mode’—or pre-planning—again.
What about you? What do you do when you’re too busy to plan? Do you use different techniques or tools? Do you completely abandon your planner or hold on to it tighter for dear life? Please share in the comments below and don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!
Until next time, 🙂
♥ LilD ♥