Are you busier than ever before, but wondering if you're accomplishing anything? Is your schedule packed between homeschooling and meetings for work, so you don't have time to think about what's most important with today's shifting priorities?
Are you feeling anxious trying to figure out where to start because you have too many things to do? Are you watching others fly past you and stay productive while you're struggling to recall what day it is?
If that's you, join the club! COVID-19 has left many of us with less social connection, more distraction, and less time to complete all of our tasks around the house and spend time with our families.
I believe all leaders want to be productive and effective. In my book, Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward, I share a Ghanaian proverb that motivates me when I'm feeling overwhelmed:
"An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep."
I believe if you're reading this, you are a lion. Many of us are leading at work and at home. I have a four and six-year at home. Working parents are facing a new level of constant distractions. So, if you're feeling like this global pandemic is forcing you to redefine balance and boundaries, I've got you. Now is your chance to make a change in your life. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would do it. So don't let your crisis go to waste.
Instead of getting stuck watching the news non-stop, I've dedicated my Fridays to teach 2,000 high performers how to be productive in uncertain times. If you are struggling with priorities and feeling stuck, try the tips that my clients said were most helpful to them this week.
These 7 Getting Unstuck strategies will enable you to accomplish more of what you want each day:
1. Think like Beyoncé. You have to respect that Beyoncé gets more done in her day then the rest of us will accomplish in our lifetimes. She has a clear vision for her life and, unlike most of us, has the experience as a child superstar to manage her time down to the second because she knows the value of her time.
As a leader, this is your time to channel your inner Beyoncé and be more efficient by tracking how your time is used each day and creating a system to prioritize your most important tasks.
Ask yourself, how you can create systems and habits that will motivate you in today's uncertain environment and shifting priorities.
2. Be better tomorrow. Release the idea of returning to "normal." Instead, accept that you're changing your lifestyle. Have you noticed you need to create clear boundaries for your day, like a set start and an end time when you can reflect on what you've accomplished and look ahead for the next day? Setting a time boundary and creating a habit to reflect on your day helps your mind and space shift from work to home
Plus you'll lower your anxiety levels by thinking about what you need to prepare in advance rather than rushing tomorrow. Leave yourself a fun note with a reminder for the next day on what is left to do.
What deliverables are critical? What do you need to share to get an agreement on priorities from your team?
Do you have video calls and the technology to participate fully?
What are your top three priorities that you must accomplish tomorrow?
3. Create your daily top 3 list.
Research says our minds can process three things at a time, so make a list of the urgent and important things that you want to accomplish. Taking time to write down what you want to achieve makes it easier to notice your progress, avoid distractions, and update your manager and team on what you're working on today.
I love an app but you'll feel more productive when you can check items off your list. Starting with your most challenging task is proven to give you the momentum to keep going. Plus, by putting your easier tasks later in the day, you build in a reward for conquering your biggest challenge first.
Pro tip: I miss connecting with people so I set up video calls in the afternoon when my energy starts to be lower. Looking forward to my chats motivates me to get my analytical tasks finished so I can be fully present and not distracted later in the day.
4. What's one thing you're looking forward to in the next year?
With so much uncertainty, this is the perfect time to keep your vision in front of you. Believe there's a fun and engaging life for you on the other side of COVID-19.
Write down what you are most excited about and look at it every day.
To reward yourself, add one task a week that will contribute to the eventual accomplishment of your bigger goal.
Taking action consistently ensures your success and is a gentle reminder of what you want.
5. Start your day earlier.
No judgment but what time did you open your eyes this morning? If you are feeling stuck and unable to accomplish your tasks in a day, consider if it's time to wake up earlier.
I wake up at 4 am to get time for prayer, meditation, and a long walk with my dog before being online for my clients at 8 am. When my kids wake up at 7 am, I've accomplished my priority tasks for the day and made time to center myself on my daily intentions.
This week take a look at your current schedule and consider where you can create space to focus on what's most important. If you are new to managing in a crisis, setting simple rules like your morning routine can give you the confidence to face a stressful day.
6. Set yourself up for success.
You have to participate in your own rescue. If you're feeling overwhelmed with all your responsibilities, pay attention.
Often high performers overestimate what we can do in a day. Now, with the constant distractions and changing priorities at work, it's harder than ever to predict what you'll be able to accomplish. When you have a large project, take time to divide your bigger jobs into several smaller tasks to more accurately estimate your time.
The good news is since you've been working from home for a few weeks, you've likely noticed how long you can focus on a task uninterrupted. To be more productive, implement time batching.
Take your top three list and place each goal or task on a Post-It.
When you begin, set your timer and put the Post-It on your computer screen until your timer goes off.
Give yourself a break between your working time to recognize your progress and get the energy to take on the next goal.
7. Check-in with yourself throughout the day.
Use your smartphone or watch to remind you to stand up and walk every 30 to 90 minutes. Use each break to check in with yourself and ask, "how am I feeling in this moment?" Next, check-in on your top three to-do list and adjust your environment if you're having trouble making progress.
Be sure to reward yourself by stepping outside and get some fresh air. Write down three things you've done well today. How will you reward yourself for all you've accomplished?
If these steps helped you, consider joining my next webinar on being productive in uncertain times. I'll share why every leader needs to focus on systems not goals, and my four rules to getting unstuck when you're working from home.
To register, go to gettingunstuckguide.com/webinars. I love teaching and creating a fun space for us to connect and encourage each other. Bring your favorite beverage and set a goal to dedicate one hour a week developing your leadership skills during this uncertain time.
When everything else is changing, love yourself enough to learn something new today.