As I mentioned, I have not been doing so well for the last couple of years. This year, my aim is to find ways to live and work more sustainably.
Oliver Burkeman raised an interesting point about how our to-do lists are overlong and easily get out of control. I am as fond of lists as Oliver – goals to aim for, MS memory prompts and work priorities. However, my lists were indeed getting longer, I was adding new tasks and rarely crossing any off. I was feeling stressed and dissatisfied.
A recent post on the British Psychological Society blog by Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) about work/life boundaries explored this topic further. Alex reported on an article by Smit (2015) which links feelings of increased anxiety with tasks that remain undone. Smit suggests having an incomplete to-do list makes it difficult to disconnect, in effect extending the working day.
Both articles inspired me to rethink my process of planning and organisation. I like starting the day with a clear idea of what needs to be done, so I needed a method that worked. My daily list now has a maximum of five key activities. It has become fun to celebrate new and unexpected tasks that each day brings; additional unplanned tasks become a bonus. If anything on the list is not finished at the end of the day, I leave a step-by-step plan of how that task will be completed before I leave the office.
I’m aware it is still January, but I’m resolutely optimistic. Granted, I usually am optimistic, that’s my default setting. This is working well so far though!
Smit, B. (2015). Successfully leaving work at work: The self-regulatory underpinnings of psychological detachment. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/joop.12137. [Open access article]