How to be productive in a chaotic world

It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain focus and achieve our goals in this crazy world. It was difficult enough just trying to juggle work, family and other commitments, but now our attention is constantly being targeted by social media, the news and people trying to sell stuff wherever we are. It feels chaotic, as if someone has been inside your head with an egg whisk. It is difficult to think with clarity and find moments of calm. These constant demands can lead to only being able to deal with what is right in front of us, right now, and ignoring the more important and strategic activities which have the potential to change our lives in the future.
Here is a really simple way to deal with overwhelm and keep focussed on the most important things.

When you feel overwhelmed do a ‘brain dump’ and write everything down on a piece of paper. Get everything out of your head and onto a piece of paper. You will see three types of things on this list.

1. Mundane but unavoidable (MBU) tasks which have to be done (collecting the children from school, grocery shopping etc). These tasks use up your valuable time but won’t make a positive difference to your life. You can’t avoid them, but you need to do them as efficiently as possible. Don’t use headspace storing them: schedule them and move onto something more important. Highlight all these items on your list and then schedule them so that you get a reminder when they need to be done. This simple technique makes a huge difference to the feeling of overwhelm. You can clear space in your head because you know these tasks are now all scheduled and will pop up when required- you don’t need to hold them in your mind.

2. Chief Actions (CA) that will make a difference to your future. These are not usually urgent, so they get pushed to the bottom of the list, even though they are more important than the MBU tasks. These are the tasks that support your goals for the future, such as developing ideas to build a business or increase income. They are usually not straight forward and can be outside your comfort zone, which is why we often avoid them. These are the most important things on your list. Highlight three of them and make sure that these get done as a priority. Each time you find yourself being distracted or diverted ask if what you are doing right now supports any of these three Chief Actions and re-direct your efforts.

3. If it is not a mundane but unavoidable (MBU) task or chief action (CA) then does it need to be on the list at all? Can you just cross it off and not do it? Be radical: cross off as many tasks as possible. Life is far too short to do everything, so be selective.

In a chaotic world we all need to find simple techniques to keep us on track and heading in the direction we want to go. Good luck in finding clarity and successfully pursuing your goals!

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