Evenings are getting warmer and longer, but you can kick back only if you aren’t at the office.
The bad news is your to-do list may dismantle your sunset-watching desires. But fortunately there’s good news. Andy Core has some work-smarter ideas to help you get home at a reasonable hour so that you can enjoy those warm summer nights.
The author of the new book “Change Your Day, Not Your Life: A Realistic Guide to Sustained Motivation, More Productivity, and the Art of Working Well” www.andycore.com, promises to help you become what he calls a “Thriver” — someone who works hard, meets or exceeds expectations, and enjoys high levels of personal and professional success, accompanied by (and this is the best part) lower stress levels.
Here is one of his strategies to help you change the way you approach your day—and get out of the office earlier:
Make a big-box checklist. It’s a given that you have a to-do list. Maybe it’s on paper, on your smartphone, or just in your head…but you have one. It’s also highly likely that your list isn’t as useful as it could be. Too often, you get stuck doing the urgent instead of the important. Core has a solution: Make an actual, on-paper checklist each afternoon for the following day or each morning. Put a box by each task—the more important that task is for you to complete that day, the bigger its box should be.
“I focus first on my big-box tasks,” Core explains. “I’m no longer distracted by each shiny ball that rolls by—I’m able to ignore them and train my focus on what’s really important. At the end of the day, if most of my big boxes have checkmarks, it’s generally been a good day! Yes, prioritizing my daily list by the size of the boxes on it may sound simplistic, but it has made me feel much more accomplished and satisfied with my day. It has also helped me relax in the evenings, because when I remember the big boxes I’ve checked off, it’s easier to leave work at work.”
Think about it so you don’t have to think about it. We all have “those” tasks and obligations that eat up a lot of our time, that we find difficult and frustrating, or both. For instance, Core recalls that as a hunt-and-peck typist, he was once slowed down and aggravated by the need to produce papers and reports.
“Figure out where these areas are for you and commit to learning a new pattern,” he urges. “For me, that meant buying a book and relearning how to type using a two-hand method. Yes, learning new patterns can initially be tedious and laborious. But once they’ve taken hold—often in three weeks or less—they’ll speed up your performance, streamline your effort, and lower your stress. By putting in some thought about ‘problem areas’ now, you’ll save yourself from having to think about them later. Eventually, this method changes once-tedious tasks into automatic, ‘I don’t have to think about it’ behaviors that save you a lot of time.”