“Nothing is more important to me than what I am doing right now.”
As I have struggled over the last 2 months to really keep up with the demands of my job, I have been forced to realize two things. First, I’m not as immune to stress as I thought I was. Second, when under stress, my organizational skills and ability to prioritize and remember what needs to be done on the fly completely break down. The two are intimately linked and can cause a horrible downward spiral from which I have found recovery is difficult.
Prior to Christmas we were going through end of year purchasing – a process that involves analyzing needs, getting quotes, and filling out stacks of paperwork – which was sheer hell. I’ve never been so exhausted, irritable, and just all around short tempered in my life. The process was just taxing. After Christmas, well really the whole month of January, I was working to install all of the equipment that we purchased at the end of the year – not to mention all of my clients came back from Christmas ready to work hard. So basically for the past 2 months I have been working long hours just trying to keep up. Finally in mid January I came to realize my limitations and began to reevaluate how I organize my life.
The first thing I did was to create a daily stress release system – exercise being my main release. I now spend a good hour and a half or more in the gym five to six days a week. This helps me to relax and disconnect from my job (as well as gives me an excuse not to be tethered to my Blackberry). I’ve also been eating much healthier and between the exercise and better diet have been much more alert, focused, and energized throughout the day. I’ve also lost 20 pounds.
Next I had to develop a system of organization that would help me be more efficient and allow me to know that I haven’t missed or forgotten anything. This system has involved better email management through email filters and labeling, creating a centralized task list (using the iPhone app 2Do which syncs with my laptop) and a centralized note taking system (using SimpleNote and Notational Velocity). Now, when I receive email I filter and label email as I get it to ensure that important emails are labelled as such and easily searchable. Any task that I need to perform goes to my task list in 2Do which notifies me of time sensitive tasks, displays tasks I need to complete by day, and gives me peace of mind by helping me to not forget anything. All notes that I take are jotted down on my SimpleNote iPhone app, in the SimpleNote web interface, or in Notational Velocity on my Mac which all synchronize so that I have that info anywhere I need it.
Finally I had to take the last and most difficult step – to rely on my stress management and organizational system something I’ve never had to do. As a part of this I adopted a mantra:
— “Nothing is more important to me than what I am doing right now.” —
By focusing solely on what I am doing right now, I am able to perform that task, or enjoy that meal, or solve a complicated problem better than ever before. My clients receive my full attention when I am with them. I don’t have the distraction and worry of work when I am at the gym. Kendra and I have been able to go on a vacation weekend without me stressing about work. My focus is on what I am doing right now because I know that my organizational system will help me accomplish everything I need to. The experience has been very freeing and I plan to continue evaluating how I manage my time and hopefully I can continue to improve my daily life.