By Nora Welch, Joining Vision and Action
Four tips to help you have a more productive 2017
Working from Grand Junction, Nora heads our efforts on Colorado’s Western Slope while also managing JVA’s robust training programs. She also uses her significant graphic chops to produce beautiful annual reports like this one for the Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families and Family and Adolescent Partnership.
Nora’s advice for getting your most important work done?
1. Be specific.
To know where to start, you have to know where you’re going. So you’ll need to come up with what would be a reasonable (or necessary) task to accomplish within your available time frame.
- Be sure you’re clear and concise. More “complete six to eight paragraphs of program narrative,” less “work on grant proposal.”
- Know what it will look like when you’re successful (so you know when you’re done).
Once you’ve determined your end goal, dig in! If the perfectionism goblins start appearing, thank them for their concern and invite them to leave. Adopt the mantra “just do the next right thing.” Once you get started, your next step will be clear. Rinse and repeat.
2. Create (and protect!) clear boundaries.
Determine when you are (or can be) unavailable to others, in order to focus on your project, then:
- Block out the time in your schedule.
- Share this with your boss, colleagues or clients (as appropriate). Let them know what that time frame looks like and what other options they have in the meantime. Set up an “away” message on chat or automatic email responder accordingly.
- Prepare your materials. This way, you have them all in one place and don’t have to spend time searching in the middle of your work flow (or get distracted as you’re searching!).
- Intentionally and actively disconnect. This is SO important. If you don’t honor your time, no one else will. Someone else isn’t going to protect your time. You have to do it! Shut down, power off, silence, put away, shut your door, etc., from whatever dings, rings or sings.
- If you are struggling to block out the “noise”, invest in a tool. Freedom.to is a paid app (for computer and phone) that will help regulate all of your notifications per your specifications.
- There are plenty of free options, too. Check out the Do Not Disturb (DND) settings on your work and personal devices. You can inform callers why you’re on DND and also only allow specific people during specific time frames to reach you. Hack alert: If you use this instead of turning your phone off, place it across the room, so at least if you decide to go check it, you’re getting the benefit of a mini movement break.
3. Schedule and take intentional breaks.
Within your dedicated time, be sure to set periods of relief from the grind. You can:
- Stand up
- Visit another part of the building
- Change your depth of focus (look out a window at something further way vs. your computer screen in front of you)
- Take a power nap (proven, but use with caution!)
- Check out calm.com. It runs in the background gently providing soothing sounds (per your scenery preference) while you’re working AND for break times, it provides timed periods of meditation. You just set the timer for however long you want to zen-out and then trust that the gong will come once your time is up.
4. Get a groove.
Music can be a great support for increasing focus and momentum. Depending on your mood and task, you may want to check out something that is:
- Instrumental (so that you don’t get distracted by lyrics)
- More calm or soothing (perhaps some classical, folk, new age)
- Driven by a beat, if you need a little bit of a “kick in the pants” (perhaps some spanish guitar, baroque, electronic dance music, jazz).
On a similar note (bah-dum-pshh), check out this neat infographic about choosing the right music for the right profession.