How to Organize a Hectic Week
Simple strategies to better tackle a week.
Last week I failed to put together an email for my newsletter and the only reason for that is that I had a pretty hectic week.
Between client work, getting ready to move, packing, and taking on a side gig of cleaning out an office building, I had little time to put together something to write about last week.
But while I had a similar theme going on for this week, this week there was more structure. Between my client work, publishing some content, cleaning up both the kitchen, and my own bedroom and bringing the last remaining pieces of furniture and grocery shopping, I've managed to complete it all without feeling stressed out or anxious.
In fact, reflecting on this week I'm surprised how much I've accomplished over this past week.
I'm not saying this to brag or anything, but obviously, something changed in my life. Most of it is probably due to the change in the environment, but also I've refined how I structure my day.
This system is something I've been bringing up in my writing that I've gotten back to publishing. And a series of elements and mindsets have helped me to achieve a significant amount in a short period of time. Here is how it's done.
First, I've put together a weekly to-do list.
Not a daily to-do list. A weekly one. Why I did this is because I'm already in a pretty good rhythm myself. I know what sort of things must get done every day or every week. For example, I know I've got deadlines for my client work, or I have some hourly work goal that I want to hit each week. I don't need to write all of that out.
However, there are other tasks that aren't part of my common pattern. They're still important, but they're not something I'd go out of my way to do. For example, this week I had tasks to clean up the kitchen and my room. I've also got tasks like publishing a certain number of articles, getting more furniture, and getting a haircut.
These are all important to me, but it's easy for me and others to procrastinate those tasks. We play them up in our heads to make them a huge deal. The reality is that those tasks didn't take a lot of time. The tasks I gave myself took 30 minutes tops. The only real long tasks are writing the articles, and getting my haircut (most of that time is actually walking there).
This structure has been working wonders for me thus far as it's allowed me to break up my day in a better fashion. And even though I plan to add 7-10 items on it, it's not all that stressful. Why that is goes into the second part of my system.
Second, I break the list down.
This week, I published a post on getting a lot of things done on your to-do list. There are a lot of productivity tips in there that are well worth reading. One of those tips was talking about breakable items. For that point, it's breaking tasks into smaller tasks to do.
However, I'd go a step further than that.
Not only should we be breaking large tasks into smaller portions, but basically tackling a certain amount of tasks on that list each day. In a sense, I'm giving myself a daily to-do list, but it's more of me taking a few items from a larger list and doing those.
This forms my structure for my day. In the morning I juggle between all of my client work and in the afternoon or around noon I handle any other tasks that I want to get done. From writing up more articles to cleaning.
Of course, I don't restrict myself to those times to do tasks. If I'm cooking breakfast and waiting for my food to get ready, I can tidy up the kitchen while I wait. Regardless the idea is to not stress yourself out and handle the tasks little by little every day until everything gets crossed off.
Third, I pay attention to my environment.
I said that environment is key when it comes to productivity and I'm already starting to see that effect in my work and in my overall routine.
While living at home, I didn't see much of a need for getting outside or doing anything else outside of my work. But ever since I've moved my desk outside of my room, I've had this itching to do other things. This also compliments my to-do list which has a handful of other tasks that aren't work-related.
Our productivity and habits are directly tied to the areas that we dwell and what we choose to do in them. These form the environments that help us develop habits. It's why having my office now in the living room is a smart idea because it gets me out of my room. I'm in a space where I want to be getting up and moving around on the regular unlike in my room which I use for sleeping.
At this point, I'm convinced that knowing what room is set up for what habit to develop is important to any system you want to build to help you achieve your goals.
Fourth, I reward myself in some fashion.
I haven't been thinking of splurging or anything, but rather finding satisfaction in crossing items off of my to-do list. One of the big arguments against to-do lists is the fact they are addictive due to the dopamine rush you get from scratching an item off.
I'd argue against that by saying it depends on how you treat your list. The strategies I mention in the article I linked above ensure that you put meaningful items and that you get them done.
It's the fact you're placing a restriction to only put in the most important tasks that can drive such an impact. Over this week it feels good to have my room all cleaned up so my mom doesn't have to come in and clean it up. The same goes for the kitchen. It felt great to get a haircut mainly because I find my long hair to be heavier, makes me feel unproductive, and it bugs me to no end.
I find that having those deep rooted reasons for why you want this item to be complete can help you relish the dopamine rush. Not only that but it breeds the idea of putting in those harder tasks rather than fill it up with tasks you'd do anyway.
Finally, I reflect on my progress.
I'm definitely writing this for you all, however this email is also for me to an extent in the sense that this serves as a reflection for myself. I take time to recall this past week and put together how much I've achieved over this week.
In fact, I finished everything on my list and I didn't even give myself a full week to finish it!
This part of the system is something that is needed because it helps you to measure how far you've gone and how much progress you've made. It also helps you to recognize what needs fixing—if any—and to help you prepare for weeks to come.
On top of that, it's another solid dopamine rush where you reflect on your achievements. It's a chance to reflect on the positive and look for areas to improve and pump yourself back up again.
This is the system that I've built and will use it to cross off my remaining goals for this year.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon