Feeling overwhelmed? Feel like you have a million things to do and don’t know where to begin? Ever find yourself working on a project, and no matter how fun or how passionate you feel about it, you get to a point where your eyes glaze over, your brain fries, and a nap sounds like the greatest thing in the world? Don’t do it!
The fact of the matter is after a certain amount of time your brain habituates and actually tires from repeated behavior. When exposed to loud music, for instance, after a period of time, it doesn’t seem so loud anymore. After staring at a waterfall, your sensory neurons will actually tire, and any stationary object you look at thereafter will appear to be moving the opposite direction. Musicians who practice too long will actually start making mistakes due to an abundance of neural development that overlaps in the brain. OK, dendrites turn me on, but the actual point of this is, if you tire from doing the same task for too long, it’s not your fault! No matter how exhilarating the task was at the beginning, you were not made to stare at a computer screen for hours on end! Nor do any other task for hours on end!
To add to all this fun, have you ever been working on one task, and at the back of your mind you are thinking about all the other things you have to complete? You may find it hard to focus on the task at hand, when there is so much uncertainty about when or IF all the other things will get done.
So what do you do? Here is a trick I love when my TO DO list grows gigundo and I don’t know where to begin.
You make a Power 20 List! Take 4 projects and write them down, no matter how big or small they may be.
Break for 5
Now rotate them! Start with Task 1 and work on it for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes has passed, switch to Task 2. After 20 minutes has passed, switch to Task 3. Can you guess what’s next? After Task 4, take a 5 minute break. Some ideas for your break are to stretch, drink water or tea, dance around to a favorite song, or meditate.
Another helpful hint is to vary the nature of the tasks. Maybe one is on your computer, another is organizational, another involves communicating with people, etc. By varying your projects you allow your brain to be stimulated in a new way every 20 minutes. Additionally, it helps clear up a lot of “Ah man… I really should be working on _____” thoughts. When you have a plan in place to work on other projects at designated times, it allows you the peace of mind to know there is a plan in place to conquer them, and in the present moment you can fully devote yourself to your task at hand. You may find your productivity for each task actually goes up.
Do I think you should go about your day as a rotational nut? No, I’ll admit that some tasks are better suited sustained more than 20 minutes. But I urge you to give it a try and let me know how it goes! Happy Power 20 to you!
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