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The 3 Step Plan to Fall Behind in Style

The 3 Step Plan to Fall Behind in Style

    No matter how many self-help and productivity books you read and implement it is inevitable that you will eventually fall behind in your work and life. Falling behind can be a terrible experience; you can lose precious time catching up, stress yourself out, and the worst case being losing your job or money.

    But, you don’t have to be a horrible, unproductive loser when you fall behind in work and life. Follow these three steps to fall behind in style.

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    1. Stick to your system

    First off, falling behind won’t work if you don’t have a productivity system in place. It doesn’t really matter what system you follow, just make sure that you have some sort of framework to fall back on.

    The reason that you need your system when you fall behind is that you need a trusted place to put all of the incoming stuff that you can’t currently handle. Having a place to store this information while you get out of your little (or big) rut is important to keeping yourself somewhat on track. While you work through you projects and tasks backlog, keep all of the incoming information on a someday/maybe list and reevaluate it when you are out of your rut.

    Try very hard not to add more work to your current projects and tasks, unless you absolutely don’t have a choice. If you do have to add more work, then you may need to cut something you are currently working on (more on that in step three).

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    2. Get some backup

    When your work life is falling through the cracks it is almost impossible to get back on track alone. There is nothing better than having someone (or a team of people) to fall back on. I’m not saying that you want to make these people your scapegoats or give them all the work while you sit around and drink your Starbucks. I’m saying that you have to communicate with them and possibly offload work to them.

    Make sure that others that you work with know that you are behind and that you are concentrating on a few things to get back on track. If you are a pretty diligent worker to begin with, your coworkers will understand and most likely will give you a hand, that is, if they aren’t completely backlogged themselves.

    If you have some teammates at work that are really good at something you have to do, maybe you can delegate them some of your work so you can concentrate on the others things that you are better and faster at.

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    3. Revaluate your commitments and cut the fat

    One of the biggest reasons we fall behind in work and life is because we have committed to too many projects and cool ideas. Our minds are filled with glorious plans, ways to make money, killer startups, and projects that “need to be done” or are “no-brainers”.

    The reality of the matter is that we can only commit to so much in our lives. If we overcommit, we not only risk falling behind in our work, we risk completed projects poorly or not at all. This can be more detrimental than the initial stress from falling behind.

    What you can do is fall back on your system (you do have one of those, right?) and look at all of the projects you have committed to. Take the five most important projects and make them the only active ones you have. These will most likely be projects that are overdue or are on the brink of failure. Concentrate on these five projects and only work on them until they are completed. Then you can start to trickle in other “less important” projects.

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    You may find by reevaluating your projects that some of them are not worth your time right now or not worth any time ever. Get rid of them as you see fit. There is no better way to get ahead in work by giving yourself less unimportant work.

    One task at a time

    While getting destroyed by your work projects can be stressful and feel like the world around you is caving in, you don’t have to be a super productivity nerd to get back on track; just someone who is realistic with themselves and can set realistic expectations on their own work. All you have to do is follow these three steps to make falling behind in work and life look easy.

    (Photo credit: Office worker with a sign asking for help via Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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