Now just because I write about productivity and publish a blog on Life Design doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. This last week was proof of that!
Up until these last several days I have been able to deliver on my commitment to limit my professional work to the working week, managing the workload through my GTD processes and setting myself a manageable pace.
The problem that I periodically face, is that my work often far exceeds my role description and the work that I do is not easily predictable from one week to the next. I could simply just deliver on the role description and the long list of varied duties it contains but that’s not the way I roll.
This is why…
My entrepreneurial approach and professional network leads to many varied discussions and potential opportunities for securing new business for my design practice. Part of my role is to generate new business so what am I worrying about? The challenge that I have is that the opportunities I connect with by their very nature end up requiring complex solutions involving strategic conversations and linking key resources over weeks and sometimes months. Perhaps these complex opportunities find their way to me because I have demonstrated that I can generate the ideas and connections to make things happen, but I wonder why I don’t ever seem to get the simple ones!
Why is this relevant? It regularly becomes an issue for me because this type of “work” is unpredictable and not easily forecasted. By its very nature it is difficult to plan as it has so many moving parts that rely on conversations and inputs that are also variables and not under my control. So when it comes to me executing my GTD system of prioritized and planned tasks, which take that full working week to get through; it can often fail on me because of this unpredictable “additional” work from my business development activity.
I should in theory build in time to allow for this but when your working week is so unpredictable, that floating time is the first to be taken up with other tasks or dare I say it, yet another meeting - which have got more frequent since the pandemic.
So this weekend I broke that promise to myself and worked to catch up and to try and get ahead. I just had to do something because I could feel the anxiety and stress building from knowing that I had a “full inbox” and little time in my schedule to get it done. My purpose in protecting my weekend was to keep my stress at bay but this time it crept in regardless.
I did have a process and I did set some rules however to recover. I firstly reviewed my go to GTD app, OmniFocus and identified the critical items for attention. I prioritized based on those tasks that needed my focus and then I set myself a time limit on the Saturday and the Sunday to get the work done.
And it worked…
I managed to clear some time consuming tasks and devoted quality time to some design work, keeping to my pre-defined time limits. I was focussed and rigid on not allowing any distractions on my Mac or other devices and I periodically time checked to ensure that I was working at a suitable pace.
I am long way off from addressing the core issues of my role and I still have a long list of tasks to work through, but what I don’t have now is that nagging stress from worrying about how I am going to deliver.
Eliminating the stress from my life, given the impacts that has had on my health in the past, remains my top priority.
Turns out getting back on track was what I needed!