Working Through The Chaos

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is going to sound crazy but throughout last year I learned that in order for me to have a productive day I simply have to keep multitasking to the minimum. I heard that statement thousands of times before, but I never put much thought into it till one day when I had an incident which led to a revelation.

It all started with sending some work emails to the wrong people, probably because I was thinking about the cake that I had just put in the oven. It was followed by a quick shower that was interrupted by a phone call, only I couldn't find my phone - result: wet footsteps all over the apartment. Then a sudden trip downstairs to check the mailbox - so sudden, in fact, that I managed to close my front door with the keys inside - me standing in the corridor with wet hair, the dogs barking frantically...and to top if off, burning the cake, of course. Yup! When Balazs got home the flat looked like after a tornado, I missed a work-meeting and the burned cake smell stayed with us for a few days.

Well, I learned my lesson and ever since that utterly miserable day I took slow steps to manage my day a bit better. So, today I’d love to share a few tips that work for me and I’d love to hear yours too.
- Try to work in 60-90 minutes short stings without interruptions and then get up, stretch, make a cup of tea, have a little Skype chat with a friend or go for a short walk to pick up fresh flowers. For real, you can do anything you want during your little break, as long as it recharges your batteries.

- Always keep water on your desk as something that basic will keep you focused and hydrated. I noticed that often when I was thirsty, my brain registered that information as being hungry and from that point on I had the hardest time concentrating on the task at hand as the only thing I could think of was food.

 - David Allen once said: “Your head is for having ideas, not holding them. Just dumping everything out of your head and externalizing it is a huge step, and it can have a significant effect”. So start making “to do” lists. They are great to keep you on tasks but don’t let them stress you out. Do yourself a favour and mark things with different colours by importance level. They are just lists, if you don’t manage to get to your orange colour tasks that day, that’s fine. You managed to do all the red colour things anyway :)

- Also, always set your day according to your “rhythm”. I am more of a night person so I am most productive in the afternoons and do most of my day-to-day things (laundry, food shopping, and errands) during the morning. So by the time I start properly working, I feel like I already achieved something that day.

- Emails and social media can be a huge daily distraction but I insist on keeping those open at all times when I work. (If you can manage, they are better switched off).  Since I have a hard time switching them off, I started to set myself times when I go back to them for a little “look-see”.

- Having said that, I manage to keep to my “look-see times” since I started using Rebecca's kitchen timer trick. I set the timer for the amount of time that my project requires and I only focus on that during the set time. I even don’t pick up my phone during that slot.

- And since I work from home I break my days by going for a swim or a run but only if I finished a certain part of my work. You know what they say: ‘a healthy body is a happy mind’.

Now loves, your turn! Are you good with staying focused on your projects, work? Do you get easily distracted? Do you procrastinate? How do you stay productive or focused? What are your tricks? Where do you work from: home, office, café? xo

(Photos via Now and Than, Becycle, Armchair Golf and  the drawing via Oh so Lovely Obsessions)


Anonymous said...

Ah I needed to read this today. I've been having hard time juggling works and everything around. I started to think that I have to up my game in multitasking but after reading your tips I am going to go the other direction and make time for everything one by one. Thanks Diana.


Patricia Villamil said...

I will learn to follow this advise, as I'm a multi-tasker on steroids, so I understand and commiserate with you when you had that disaster happen to you!

Diana Mieczan said...

Ola, my pleasure:) Hope those tips will help.

Diana Mieczan said...

Patricia: "multi-tasker on steroids" - that made me giggle!

HiLLjO said...

I prefer my daily rhythm when I can get my rear to work at 6. The whole day is much more productive, even if it includes a nap.

That's Not My Age said...

I am good at staying focused mainly because I have so little time I have to use it wisely! Love that first photo of Larry David.

Annie said...

love your tips, Diana! I think I need to multitask a lot less and prioritize better!!

Lucent Imagery said...

A great post! Can certainly relate to those absent-minded accidents! I also use rewards as a way of getting through tasks that aren't as exciting. For example, once I've completed x, I can eat the yummy treat in the fridge. I also start my day with walking my husband to his office and then my dog and I walk more and head home. It puts all three of us in the best frame of mind to start the day like that!

Elsa de Diego said...

Aha! :) Love this! I work in an office at the moment, but I'll be working from home next year -looking forward to it, actually! I like the 60 to 90 minute short sting. Planning is also important. I guess the key is to add some dynamism to the day: working from a cafe, going for a run...this way you don't feel you are stuck and isolated at home. Muah!

little luxury list said...

It is true - multi-tasking actually makes one less efficient!
Thank you for the tips and reminder to focus!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Rachel said...

Diana, out of curiosity, what do you do for a living? I'm always interested to hear what peoples' jobs are when they work from home (since that's my goal too =]). And I definitely need to work on decreasing the amount of multitasking I do. Social media is taking over my life! These are great tips.

Diana Mieczan said...

I love naps, HiLLjO:)

Diana Mieczan said...

That's Not My Age, I adore Larry!!!

Diana Mieczan said...

Lucent Imagery, I love the walk idea. It's a wonderful way to start off the day on a happy note.

Diana Mieczan said...

Elsa, exactly! It's all about making yourself feel comfortable and happy but still staying on the task:)

Diana Mieczan said...

Rachel, I am a freelance writer.

Laura Bear said...

Yep. This is all so good. I work from home and couldn't agree more... giving yourself little breaks is SO important! and lists.... god bless evernote! :)

Diana Mieczan said...

Giggle, Laura:)

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