May 30, 2013

The Simple Successful Day

I have been trying my utmost to settle back into a work routine after the amazing triple Ironman, Joberg2c and Sani2c experience.

While I came back with a mind full of expert-level ideas, my execution of them has been a little slow and frustration levels are rising to the point where I had to do something about it this week.

With the lack of structured training (read: my addiction) a few other things fell by the sideline – eating cleanly, sleeping regular hours, etc. These things all affect my concentration during work hours and the realisation that my addiction keeps my life in check was not a mild one. I was having lunch with an amazing guy yesterday who has had a profound impact on my life this year and we both agreed that the period post-Ironman is a tough one, all on its own. There is no manual on how to cope with the sudden lack of structure, focus and discipline towards something as easily quantifiable as a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km plod.

While there have been some really superb break throughs in the last few weeks, I have had to tighten up things around these parts this week and have tried to come back to a simple day. I had to think about what a simple, successful day includes.

So I broke it up into its two parts. Success on any given day for me includes:

– Getting through my task list at work.
– Getting outside at least once to exercise my body to clear my mind.
– Eating cleanly to maximise my energy production on the day.
– Sleeping 8 hours peacefully (ie. Stopping work by 6pm to get to bed at 9:30pm without a busy mind).
– Having time to research and play with ideas and concepts.

Then the second part, which involves getting through those things as simple as possible.

It made me realise a few things:

– Be realistic.
– Be a planner.
– Be prepared for change.

To get these things done simply, I need to:

– Wake up early enough to get in a bit of exercise. It makes me easier to deal with all day.
– Have the right food in the fridge to have a clean breakfast and lunch ready to roll.
– Manage my task list daily and be realistic about how much time I have in each day.
– Plan my day to include time for myself / research / playtime.
– Switch off my brain from work around 6pm latest.

Other little tricks that really help:

– Assign an importance to each task in the day and manage the important ones first.
– Say no to extra commitments on the day. Schedule them.
– Limit tasks to 7 per day. Successful days repeated build a happy life. Falling short every day is not good for self confidence.
– Slow the hell down, twice a day. 11am and 3pm I take 10-15min to just re-order things, bring my attention back to central and ready myself for the next push.
– Single task, like a boss.

Today is Thursday. I had an 8:30am & 9am meeting planned – each would only take 10min or so. I then had to collect something, deliver it somewhere else and then, by 10:30am, be back in the office for my third and last meeting of the day. 11am I took my break and at 11:15am I culled my email backlog. An hour ago, or midday, I set about grooming my lead list and now, at 12:45 I set 15min for a blog post about this topic.

Six tasks ticked off before lunch. This gives me an afternoon to really get my head around a new CRM program I am starting to use to manage my time better. I have set out 4 hours for that task, for today alone.

Every day is not as successful as this one, but it’s been quite well planned out and that comes from having done a little exercise this morning after 8 hours of sleep last night. Its through constant practise of this simple, successful day, that suddenly successful weeks appear.

A last, vital benefit from these days is that they allow unexpected change to enter without huge derailment of the entire day. There is space, time wise and head space wise, to flex and adapt to suit changes and new demands. Really, a win-win for all involved.

Here’s to more simple, successful days.

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