As a busy professional, making sure things get done to your high standards in the available time is paramount. Most of us crave to do this without feeling everyday is a mad dash to get through our to do lists. The best way I see to do that to find really practical ways to make the most of your time and resources, so you can go from chaos to calm. Then you can meet the challenge of balancing long term thinking with handling day-to-day realities, ensure things are done to your standards and what you want most becomes a regular part of your day.
Here are 6 simple, practical and effective principles to bring more creativity, productivity and calm to your work.
- Connect with your Big Vision. Understand that you are here to do great work, get crystal clear about what calls from the marrow of your bones and honor it appropriately.
- Break your Vision into Themes and your Themes into Projects. Part of getting things done well is to chunk down from the big vision. First, decide what qualities you want to bring to your work. Next, develop themes based on these qualities. Finally, define the projects that are in line with your themes. To rein in a tendency to have (or feel like you need to) a gazillion projects going at once, pick no more than 3 projects to focus on over a 4-week period; a revenue project, a development project, and a personal project.
- Treat Every Project as a Great Experiment. You can always make progress on a project. No matter how small the step you take it is progress made. Your efforts and outcomes both have value. If a small step is less productive than you intended you have not lost too much. If it does propel you forward you can figure out how much bigger to make the next step.
- Put Things in Writing. The more your ideas go onto paper, the more real they are and the more you can do with them. It’s not real until it’s in writing. This includes creating a daily plan with a bias towards action on priority projects to move those ideas into reality.
- Work on the Action Steps for Your Projects in Short, Focused Bursts. It is amazing what you can get done in as little as 10 minutes when that is the only thing that exists for those 10 minutes. Go ahead and try it. Close the door. Turn down the ringer on your phone, the cell phone too, turn off the email notice and just focus.
- Expansion and Contraction are Natural. All creative acts, including the work we do, have stages of expansion and contraction; both are key to move forward over time. Expansion happens when you brainstorm, increasing your options, possibilities for action. Contraction is when you narrow down the list. Feeling stuck, numb, bored? It is time for some expansion so you can see possibilities you didn’t see before. Overwhelmed or discouraged? Contraction comes into play to narrow your focus in order to concentrate your efforts and move forward.
Deirdre M. Danahar, MSW, MPH, LICSW, ACC, helps busy professionals with creative spirits go from chaos to calm, by finding practical ways to get things done and live an extraordinary life without compromise. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.