I often get a lot of comments or questions about how to manage unscheduled work – or work that you have no control over. When we help our clients structure their days, weeks, months and years to be better aligned with their energy and natural bio-rhythms, there is always the common challenge of dealing with things you can’t control and other people’s priorities. We all have them, they are a fact of life. And the truth is, whether you are working in an office environment, travelling regularly, working from home or doing manual labour, there is always going to be an element of your day that you can’t control. So, how do we manage this for better performance and productivity?
In a word, routines.
Routines can be defined in a number of ways – as a sequence of actions regularly followed, or something performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason. Whatever meaning sits better with you, what we know is that wiring a set of actions or activities into our brain for ease of completing a task allows us to complete said task using less energy and effort. And we’re all about using less energy and effort at NEP!
What are the benefits of creating routines for better productivity and overall performance?
The main one, using less energy, allows us to focus our energy on other things rather than the simple activities that can be done almost on autopilot. A simple routine I have created is my morning routine – regardless of whether I am working in the city, inter-state or at home, I shower, dress and put my make-up on. I’m then ready to face the day, regardless of what it brings, having used little energy actually completing the tasks and more focus on preparing myself mentally for the things to come.
We know that our brain hard-wires behaviours and actions as we experience things over the years. Creating routines uses our ability to hard-wire behaviours and actions to our best advantage. As we’ve mentioned before, our brain is wired for defense, it’s what keeps us alive and protects us from harm. By creating routines, we are allowing ourselves to use our precious energy nuggets for other, higher-priority tasks and activities. It reduces decision fatigue and mental drain from having to always make conscious decisions and think through our actions.
How to cope with unscheduled work
If your workload is irregular and scattered, look for the opportunities where you can take control back.
- Create routines outside of work to keep you on track and feeling in control in at least some areas of your life.
- Structure your weeks in advance – plan 4–6 weeks ahead to avoid some last-minute obstacles.
- What do your morning and evening routines look like (or the times you get up and go to bed)?
- Plan/pre-prepare your meals, reducing the effort of daily decision making and preparation.
- Schedule a workout at the same time every day to get you moving, as well as enforcing an end to your work time.
- Commit to picking the kids up from school/sport etc.
- Co-ordinate regular social events with friends as an anchor point for the day/week/month etc.
Creating routines in certain areas of your life, regardless of what’s going on at work, allows you to have some control over where your energy goes. We will all come up against unplanned work, tasks, or activities, and will need to be flexible in order to meet deadlines and goals. How we manage these events as they present themselves is the key to our success. Most importantly, do what works best for YOU. Test and learn, and then re-test again.
For more information on managing your energy to YOUR pace and structuring your life for better productivity, get in contact with us today.