Welcome to your best week
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Hello lovely, and thank you for joining me for Searching for Serenity's seven day video tutorial series, Your Best Week. Today is day four and we are going to follow on from yesterday's tasks in relation to your to-do list and batching your to-dos. As a quick reminder, I asked you to download everything from your head, everything that you think needs to be done, every task, everything that worries you about work, home, you name it, down on a piece of paper. I then asked you to start looking a those tasks and drawing out which ones were for work, which were for home, and to bring them together.
We then looked at batching tasks, which is something you can do to make yourself more efficient. If you have to do lots of the same task, by batching them together, you increase your efficiency and get work completed more quickly.
Today, I am bringing you one of my favourite tools, which I use particularly when I'm tired or if I'm overwhelmed with work I need to do. This the Eisenhower matrix, or as I call it, the decision support tool. It's a very simple tool, but CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY!
Now, I use this in particular because at the height of my burnout, I really struggled with decision making, not great for a lawyer, I have to say. The problem with this is, we use our brains all day, every day constantly. When we overwork our brains, it can lead to significant fatigue. That's why I asked you yesterday to download everything from your brain onto a piece of paper. As you do this, you will find your brain capacity is opened up. You are not constantly tired because you don't have this ticker going on in the back of your head running these constant little thoughts of have I, should I. Have I done this? Ought I have done that? What do I need to remember? What do I need to keep in my short term memory? It's just gone. By using the paper copies, whether it's on a piece of paper or in an electronic format, you remove the inconsistency. You remove the doubt. You remove the anxiety because you don't have to worry about whether you've remembered it. It's already there. It's written down, ready to do.
The decision tool is there for you to prioritise your tasks. Now, it should be relatively self explanatory. You take each of the tasks, and you put them in the appropriate box, whether they are urgent, unimportant, urgent but not important, not important at all, not urgent, and so on. Lift each of the tasks into the box and it's very important that you use objective criteria to do this. It's very easy to feel that everything is urgent and important but you need to sit back and reflect on each of the tasks. What does the time frame that the task has to be completed in? That time frame and how long the task will take denotes whether it's urgent or not. What will happen if the task is not completed? Is it nobody cares? Is it a chasing email? Is it that your client's claim will be struck off and you will have a claim for professional negligence for having failed to deal with it? That one's very urgent and important.
Using those objective criteria you can determine what tasks are urgent, important, and so on, and put them in the appropriate box. From there, you then complete your tasks in the order of the boxes. Urgent and important will obviously have to need to be dealt with first. If you have tasks that are urgent but not important, I would suggest that you delegate wherever possible. It's not as perhaps as necessary for the tasks to have been scrutinised on a high level, or it might be that they are more routine in nature, but they need to be dealt with quickly, in which case you can delegate these out to somebody if you have the capacity or the ability to delegate to other people.
As you move down to important, but not urgent, or these tasks can be allocated a proper time to be dealt with, because you are under that time pressure. When you move down to not urgent and not important, hopefully the bulk of your tasks are in this box. Delete, delegate, defer, book time in your diary for them, as required.
Now, this tool is so helpful for me because you're looking at objective criteria. It's not your own internal stress and worry that makes you think everything is urgent and important. You can see very clearly with those objective criteria and you don't need to worry about it. There's no extra anxiety or concern over this.
Now I use this tool on a daily basis. This is why I'm bringing it to you today. It's not just using this matrix. It's also about the day to day close down.
In just the same way as I spoke to you about sleep earlier in the week, you should have a routine for bed. A time that you go to bed, that you start preparing, whether you're reading in bed and so on. I would suggest that you use the same routine with closing down your work. Now, obviously I don't stress you get in your pyjamas at the end of the day, unless you work from home, in which case, go for it. Before you leave the office each day, spend two minutes, five minutes max, preparing, reviewing, or collating. If you've had your written to-do list, your five minute close down routine might look something like this. Review the to-do list, and strike off all the tasks that have been completed if you haven't already. Add additional new tasks that you didn't manage to add throughout the day or anything that has come to your attention that wasn't on the list previously. Use the decision support tool to allocate a priority number. One being urgent and important, two being urgent but not important, and so on. Then allocate those numbers to the tasks. Once you've done that, you have your game plan, you have everything that you need to do, everything you need to achieve, and the order in which you're going to do it.
At that point you can take a deep breath and shut down your computer and leave. The beauty of this is not simply that you get to leave the office feeling guilt free, that you get to see what you've achieved in the day before you've left. You get to leave and not worry about your to do list, not keeping all of the stuff here in the back of your head. You also have your game plan for the next day. Rather than coming in, getting a cup of coffee, starting up your computer, looking at the pile of work on your desk and wondering if it's too late to take a sick day, you can get straight into it. You know what's urgent and important, and it's right there. Just get on with it. Don't delay. Don't procrastinate.
We're keeping our time sheets of what we're doing throughout the day. You will start seeing those periods of dead time. It's also really handy because if you do know that you have a certain time of the day when you don't work very well, well that's when you pick up the not urgent and not important tasks. If 2 pm is always cumbersome, pick up some of the admin tasks then. Same with the Friday afternoon, probably.
Today's tasks are to review the decision support tool. I've included that for you to download and use and abuse at your will. Then to use the two to five minute close down routine before you finish work at the end of the day. An important thing here is when you are listing your tasks and updating your to-do list at the end of the day, this is not your queue to continue working. This is your queue, and it will become more ingrained as it becomes a habit, to close down, to congratulate yourself on a day well achieved, and to leave.
That's it. It's that simple, but it's one of those habits that genuinely if you keep doing this, if you keep applying it, you will leave guilt free and stress free more nights than I care to count.
As ever if you struggle with this or if you want some more help, or some more support, you can reach out to me in the Facebook group or you can email me at email@example.com. Otherwise, I will be back in your inbox tomorrow, with day five's video. Have an amazing day. Let me know how you get on with this task. Of course, take care of yourself. By for now.