year end

Another Year, Another Set of Lessons Learned...

As most people do, we’ve spent a lot of time these last few days thinking about this past year: the wins, the losses, the lessons learned. While generally, everyone loves a solid pat on the back for our wins (and we did, don’t worry!) we’d like to focus on what we believe is the most important part: our lessons learned.

It might be encouraged to learn from others’ mistakes, we also think it’s well worth learning from others’ research. We’ve been doing a LOT of reading lately and have pulled some great lessons from one of our favourites, The Productivity Project, by Chris Bailey.

  • Stop multitasking. This isn’t new to us (or you, if you’ve read any of our other posts!) but it was reinforced once again that multitasking actually makes it take longer to accomplish your task because you’re jumping around from task to task. You only THINK you’re accomplishing more because your eyes are bouncing around from screen to screen.
  • Scheduled Maintenance Days. This concept is new-ish to us (at least in these terms) but we love it and have already scheduled Weekly Maintenance Days into our schedule. Tasks such as emptying inboxes, filing, reading any articles that have been flagged that week, setting 3 goals for the following week, and check-in on projects & update. [Maintenance Days can also be set for home tasks such as laundry, groceries, cleaning, watering plants, etc!]
  • Create a Procrastination list. For the times you’re finding yourself stuck and really not wanting to do a certain task, have a shortlist of 2-3 other high-return tasks that you can choose from. This way, even if you set aside the initial task, you’re still getting something of value done.
  • Simplify your work. We know low-impact tasks, like checking emails, are a necessary evil. But what if you only check your email a couple of times a day, rather than having a notification pop up every time the latest deal arrived in your inbox? Pausing (or better yet, REMOVING) notifications for most of your apps and/or on your desktop will allow you to focus better, longer. You’ll be able to concentrate without needing to know what email just arrived.
    • Bonus: it sets a boundary, too, in that you aren’t expected to be responding to an email before it barely arrives. If you’re in a position where you check multiple inboxes daily, plan for a block of time in the morning, after lunch, then again before you sign out for the day and check each inbox and reply accordingly.
  • Retrain your attention muscle. This has been the biggest game-changer for us since reading this book in that we’ve been able to notice just how much our attention wanders while we work. Trying to recognize it as it’s happening (or shortly thereafter…) is hard, but pulling ourselves back to the task in front of us and really focusing our energy to stay in tune with it has been a welcomed change. It makes us not only more productive, but we aren’t spending as much time on tasks as we were before! This allows for us to get more done, or choose to have some downtime – which we can always use more of!
  • Drink less coffee. While this will be a hard one for us, we’ve known for a long time that caffeine generally isn’t great for your body, let alone right at the start of the day. It’s like an electric ZAP to your system (duh!) which is almost like someone shaking you awake from a deep sleep. It sucks! We also tend to rely on coffee more as a comfort thing rather than a functional thing, in that we’ll drink it all during the day and even in the evening. And well, sleep has been something we’ve been struggling with for a while (even pre-insane coffee consumption!) so we’re going to try and retrain some parts of our systems in these first few months. January will be a month of no coffee, pop, or alcohol! It’ll be a nice little reset for our bodies and hopefully, encourage natural sleep habits and boost our energy without assistance.

Every year we start out with setting goals and focusing on what’s to come for the New Year, but this year we’re going to change it up a little bit. We’re only going to set quarterly goals (which obviously feed into a larger one) that will still be mega milestones for us. But we’re also going to use these lessons learned to help carve out some new habits over time and hopefully get us (and our clients!) into some better routines so that we can all be more successful!

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