I used to have a preference for finishing everything I started in a single block of time e.g. cleaning the house had to be done in one day, all the ironing had to be done in one go, the workshop I had started working on had to be designed in one sitting, the list goes on…
Then 4 ½ years ago, I became a mother and took 1 year out of work. It’s fair to say that with the arrival of this tiny bundle came chaos. My routines no longer worked. Time had changed shape. Life revolved around feeding, bathing and nappy changes. I tried in vain to keep up with the constant chores of laundry and cleaning whilst my beautiful baby girl napped, but tiredness was a huge barrier and I never managed to complete anything before she awoke. The result? A chaotic home and a tired, stressed out mum.
Then one day during a phone call to my mother… “I can’t do it all Mum” I cried, “It’s too much, the house is a mess, I’m exhausted, I can’t keep up with everything”, and she said “You’re going to have to let go of your old ways and start doing things in ½ hour blocks of time”.
Well this honestly threw me into a blind panic. “What, start something and leave it unfinished?!” Horrified, I ignored her advice….
I went back to work exhausted after a year of maternity leave, and unsurprisingly, I continued with the same approach. The result? – even more tired and stressed. Approximately 6 months in, came the realisation – my tiredness and stress were the product of my own habitual pattern of behaviour which was detrimental to my well- being, performance and productivity, and here’s how:
I didn’t progress with any other tasks until the task in hand was completed and so other important activities were temporarily put on hold, built up and became urgent
I ran myself ragged, didn’t allow myself time and space to re energise, or re fuel and so I ended up exhausted and under-performing on all levels
…. As if by magic my mother’s words rang in my ears…“You’re going to have to let go of your old ways and start doing things in ½ hour blocks of time”. Suddenly I realised this was the only way I was going to be able to keep all the plates spinning simultaneously.
I’m pleased to say, that since then, I’ve taken my mother’s advice and am successfully applying it both personally and professionally. I have to admit to laughing out loud recently, when I discovered a video on YouTube about a time management tool called the Pomodorro technique offering the same advice… It was as if someone had overheard the conversation between my mother and I, and created a quick tutorial just to prove her point.
Try it for yourself, the technique just might help to make life work!
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