For a long time I’ve resisted being told (by me) how and when I should tackle certain aspects of my work – mostly writing or product design which require creative thought. My belief is that I’ll always feel like doing something on any given day; and so all my projects will be completed eventually.
That’s true; and yet a recognised side effect is prolonging a piece of work that could have been nailed in one sitting, with a little focus.
Some friends have questioned how I get any work done when not on site. They admit they don’t fare well when working from home; and often report being distracted by daytime TV – or even the ironing – which means they don’t get around to the more challenging aspects of their work. In the office environment similar distractions include frequent trips to the drinks machine and hours spent trawling through meaningless emails.
One thing I do know is that when I’m under the cosh I deliver, regardless of how creative I’m feeling that day, which blows my theory out of the window. I’ve realised that in trying to appeal to my need for variety I can be less effective; because I spend too much time trying to decide what I feel like doing rather than just cracking on.
So, the learning is to focus systematically on activities that have the most long-term leverage. By intentionally scheduling time for more challenging work, you’re less likely to leave it to the last minute or, even worse not get round to it at all.
The way I’m choosing to do that is by identifying the most important challenge for the day whilst out for my morning run. That way, I can make it my first priority when I arrive at the office; and if I have clients booked in all day then I can make it the most important topic the very next day.
How you do that is personal to you. How we feel afterwards is possibly the same – like we’ve achieved something important and that we’ve had a productive day.