We work hard to stay on the straight and narrow path by staying focused in our work and driving towards our goals. However, as the pressure and demands on us increase, our focus begins to break down and bad old habits that we believed had been conquered long ago begin to emerge once again. Our clarity is diminished as if we are looking through a broken window.
Recently, I fell into this trap. In an effort to move several personal and professional projects forward, I slid back into an old habit of trying to make a little progress on each project every day. This resulted in little progress on many projects but nothing ever getting completed. I started to watch timelines erode as time cushions were eaten up. Luckily, I regularly take the time to assess my performance, and I have good people in my life that provide honest feedback. Long before any project was in jeopardy of being late and over budget, I course corrected.
- Prioritize and then execute on those priorities
- Stay on that highest priority task until it is done, or it reaches a predefined stop
I went back to my core time and task planning approach that is a hybrid of the GTD and Covey approaches. I am getting back the lost time and starting to see things move over to the completed side of my perpetual to-do list.
This problem is common; people strive to be more productive in higher-stress periods and unknowingly slide back into a firefighting approach that is ineffective and costs more time then stopping and following a solid planning system that prioritises what needs to get done.