Just another manic Monday

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Apr 12

Are your Monday’s overwhelming…or close to it? All you can do is paddle, paddle and paddle some more and not get much done? Feels great, doesn’t it? Not. If you are experiencing one of those manic Monday’s (or any other day for that matter…), take out a piece of paper, block out everything else for seven minutes and then do two actions:

Do a complete mind sweep

A mind sweep, according to David Allen‘s Getting Things Done methodology, is simply getting everything out of your head and on to paper. No need to organize it, do anything about it or try and finish something–just get it out of your head and on to paper.

What this does is help you get all that swirling, fear-ridden manic Monday stuff off your brain. It helps you to say, “Yes, I have a lot to do, but at least here it all is in front of me now.” Or, it helps you to say, “OK, this isn’t so bad, I can get working on this now or later.”

Usually, I find when I think I have tons of work to do, I think about the tons of work to do. Not just starting to complete a task that would help get some of the tons of work to do done.

If you have never done this exercise, try it. You’ll be surprised at how much better you do just taking two minutes out of the seven and getting what is in your head to do on paper.

Get perspective

In the final five minutes, look at each of these work categories and put down on paper the number one to-do that would help you accomplish it:

  • Your projects–you have many, but which ones are burning your ears asking to get looked at? Then write down one task that would move that project forward.
  • Your areas of responsibility–depending on your job, these could be responsibility for finance, staff development (or your own development), or supporting your coworkers in some aspect of their work. Take the ones that are the most pressing in your mind and write down one task that would help out that area of responsibility.

What this perspective stuff does is help you prioritize what is in front of you. Whatever bothers you the most is what you should do first. It’s probably the hardest task to do, probably the most neglected task you have, and the one that will get you into the biggest trouble if you don’t complete it. So do that one first and the rest will become easier to do. Plus, you’ll have much more peace of mind about your work.

There are many time and task management systems out there and though I use the GTD methodology and Things software as the tool, others will fit your working style. If you don’t have a task management system, you’ll end up having way more manic Monday’s than you deserve. Even if you have a task management system, you should regularly review how well that task system and its associated processes are working for you.

Set aside a half hour this week on your calendar and look at how you process your incoming work to your system and how you accomplish work using it. We all can improve how we process tasks–and it helps with our peace of mind, not to mention our efficiency.

But when manic Monday hits, take seven minutes for the mind sweep and getting perspective. You’ll turn manic Monday into just Monday.

How well is your task management system working for you right now? What could you do to make it better?