Recall a time you were super energetic.
There’s a spring in your step and you can take on the world.
But as fate would have it, there is nothing urgent calling your attention. No last minute deadline. No blinking voice messages. No annoyed boss.
So you go on ahead and squander that drive and motivation commenting on Facebook messages. Or browsing random YouTube videos.
We’ve all been there. And done that!
Let’s flip the situation now.
You’re in a grueling meeting with your boss. And it just stretches on and on. By the time you step out of it, you’re toast. But guess what? You scheduled a client negotiation in the same evening.
Needless to say your performance isn’t up to the mark. The client pushes hard. And walks away with a deal that actually hurts your company profits.
Not a great outcome!!
This is exactly what happens when rhythms aren’t respected:
- High focus tasks may have to be tackled with a fried brain and a tired body. The result? Under utilization of resources and decisions that are influenced by stress instead of logic and intuition.
- Apparently simple chores like watering the plants get pushed down the to-do list and lie forgotten till they blow out of proportion and become urgent. At which point of time, if you are down and out, your “doing” of them leaves a lot to be desired.
That’s the cost of not respecting our natural cycles.
Our Natural Rhythms
Human beings go through cycles of work and rest.
Build up and tear down. And this is a natural mechanism to prevent total burn-out and cognitive stagnation.
This great grid by Robert Peake – a fellow GTD Trainer – is a snapshot of the various mental and physical states we find ourselves in.
The problem lies in our tendency to disregard these cycles. We end up wasting opportunities and creating chaos.
When our energies are low, it doesn’t mean we have to stay idle over that time. There’s a way to leverage our down time and maximize productivity.
Create Next-Action Lists That Match Your Natural Rhythms
Instead of using generic to-do lists. The GTD Framework gets you to sort your Next Actions into contextualized lists.
You have the freedom to create a list for all the major settings of your life – @Office, @Home, @Errands @Computer and more.
These lists help you batch tasks together. For example, you can just whip out your @Errands list when you are driving home from work and tick off the pending chores in one go.
The beauty of this method is, you can also create lists that match your cycles.
Have a @Quick Hits list full of simple tasks like re-ordering groceries or changing remote batteries that you can do even when you’re unable to handle anything that requires focus. This way you won’t waste your time. You complete to-dos that have the potential of turning urgent later down the line and disrupting your day.
Have a @High Focus list of tasks that require you to be fully present and committed. Creating a presentation for the board members, filing your taxes and looking for a new home are to-dos worthy of the name “High Focus”. Thanks to this compilation, when you’re raring to go you can make big progress on important chores that demand your best.
Then when you find yourself riding your natural waves of energy, you can review the appropriate list & start taking action.
We can’t do what we want when we want to all the time.
But if we pay heed to our cycles and plan our work in advance, we can at least match our ability to our tasks and give our 100% to everything we undertake.
This is a small but important step towards life success! Try it out.