Today, as I rushed around trying to manage too many commitments I found myself reacting in familiar patterns: trying to multi-task, rushing to complete a ‘to do’ list, and feeling frustrated because I was unable to have ‘me’ time. Is it postworksavvy to revert to those familiar patterns when I had vowed to change this pattern once I left the office routine and the inevitable scheduled appointments stopped. During my career, especially in the latter months, I hated the ‘hurry up’ feeling as I coped with an oppressive workload that often choked the spirit.
In thinking about the reactions experienced today, I realized that some of the challenges in the post work journey are similar to those that I faced at the office: too many items on the ‘to do’ list; too little time allowed to accomplish some of the tasks; no down time for thinking or doing those ‘fun’ things that make each day special. Obviously postworksavvy interventions are necessary or the unproductive cycles are doomed for repetition along with the accompanying stress and anxiety. These strategies are a beginning –leaving the familiar coping patterns behind will be life-changing.
- Set priorities that are consistent with your life goals. With more freedom to choose activities, make sure that the tasks on your list are fulfilling and relate to the bigger goals you have set for your life. During the many years spent ‘at work’ much time was allocated to completing tasks related to organizational or team goals. The challenge for postworksavvy is to identify personal life goals and keep these goals in the forefront when choosing activities. Otherwise, precious time will be wasted on activities that produce frustration rather than satisfaction.
- Keep the daily ‘to do’ list short — preferably no more than 3 items. Three is a great number because most people can remember three items while remembering five, seven, or eleven items means creating some type of list either electronic or on paper. Many people find that the satisfaction of crossing items off the list creates a sense of accomplishment and, if this is true for you, by all means write a list and cross off the items that you finish. Three is also a great number because usually you can successfully complete three items so long as each item is limited to a task that can be achieved within the amount of time available. Reading a 700 page epic novel may not be achievable in a day but reading 75 pages of the novel might be reasonable.
- Start with the most difficult task or the item you know you dislike but must complete. If you can successfully execute something that you like to avoid or that something that takes a great deal of physical or mental energy, the sense of accomplishment will carry over to the other priority items you have identified for your day. Completion produces energy for success with the rest of the list and rewards with a sense of fulfillment.
- Take breaks. Sometimes you face a task that requires several hours of focus or concentration. Recognizing when a time-out is required is critical to success otherwise the task becomes onerous and oppressive. While there may be no joy in tedious and repetitive tasks, taking a rest from the task can help you remain cool and calm and will help to get the job finished without mistakes or accidents.
- Have one ‘fun’ item on your daily list. Postworksavvy lists always include something that you have chosen to do just for fun. Perhaps the fun activity relates to a hobby or a new skill that you are learning; perhaps the fun activity relates to playing with a pet or visiting a friend. The ‘fun’ item on your list will keep you motivated and will stop the list from becoming drudgery.
Postworksavvy believes that time is still the most precious asset given to each of us. The post work journey is about determining how you will spend your time so that important life goals can be achieved without the pressure of an overly demanding schedule and without the ruthless time allocation strategies that were required during you professional life. Postworksavvy urges that you make conscious decisions on using time to achieve the vision and priorities of your life by employing simple strategies that make every day enjoyable and that create the happiness that is the reward of successful retirement.
Readers of this blog have their own successful strategies. Write to me about those strategies that have been fulfilling for you and I will incorporate your successes into future posts.