Go Ahead, Ask A Question and Let the Answer Organize You

On Monday, I attended a free teleconference offered on marketing small businesses by Veronika Noize. She taught us how the questions we ask can provide us some structure throughout the day. I really liked this idea because it helps me avoid distractions such as T.V., email, etc. An example question she offered us was, “What is the highest and best use of my time today?"

The above question, however, is just a start. Some other good questions include, “What do I want to accomplish today?”, or “When will I get a specific task done today?”, or “What is motivating me to work on my business, career, school, etc. today?” These are just a few potential questions that can be used to help organize your thoughts when you plan your day out in your planner.

So I put this idea to use today. In my planner, I wrote down a question at the top of my daily entry. For example, I used Veronika’s question for today, Tuesday, April 22nd. Instead of delineating when I would accomplish tasks by time of day, I decided to simply determine what tasks would help me achieve the best use of my time throughout my working hours. While this approach seems less structured than using another methodology, where tasks are defined by when you are doing them, this method still organized my planner and my thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish on that day. The answers I came up with for today were:

• Publish article to DIY
• Submit article to one new magazine
• Continue work on blog radio profile
• Read!!!
• Do Fusion of 5 elements meditation
• Check blog, email

I found that asking myself questions helped make it more urgent for me to accomplish each task, because I didn’t have specific times selected. I knew if I spent time doing something that was a distraction, then it took away the available remaining time to accomplish any of my tasks. So, I gave myself some leeway by writing down a few distractions (one or two) which gave me a good break during the day but that I also still considered a good use of my time. These included: “Check Blog, email.” Turning my potential distraction into something I wanted to accomplish can still provide a sense of achieving something I wanted to do; provided of course I don't frequently choose to redo the task, at which point it becomes a distraction.

Give yourself permission to ask questions when you're working on scheduling your time. Write them down in your planner and allow it to help you focus your time and mental energy throughout the day. You can use this method in your planner as a way to structure your day around a specific question that helps your organize your thoughts and choices for that day. And of course, you can also structure your responses according to the amount of time that you would like to spend accomplishing a given task. Try asking yourself a question the night before or the first thing in the morning. Make it part of your daily ritual to help you get ready for work.

Feel free to use the questions posed in this article, or make up your own, if none of mine work for you. Whatever you use, the question should ideally challenge you to think about your day and what you feel or know is important for you to do during that day. Combine this idea with the bulleted list idea I proposed to you last week, if this helps to structure your answers. The bottom line is that you use this time to consider what is really important for you to accomplish each day: in terms of your career, your time with loved ones, personal "me" time, etc. The question you choose can help you figure out what your priorities for that day are so that when the day is over you know you’ve done what needed to be done.

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Service desk, so....

I work an 8-hour reference shift in an academic library (kind of unheard of to be on a desk like this for so long each day but traditionally that is what this school does.) No matter how many lists I make, the nature of being avaailable to EVERYONE 8 hours a day is hard to manage getting anything I have prioritized accomplished. On Tuesday, it tool\k me an entire afternoon to finish a one paragraph response by email. I am supposed to refer professional reference questions to the reference librarian, but I am also an MLS so I get them all. So, I guess I have to be happy working without a door or find another position. (No other professional jobs in this little town three-four hours from a city. Although, I do some of the things the WalMart greeter does.) I think that whenever I DO get to cross something off the "Next Actions" list I should celebrate a job accomplished in the chaos!

Whine, whine, whine! Does anyone else live in a fishbowl and try to get other projects accomplished?

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Me too.

I live in the fish bowl. I'm at home with my daughter. Ever since her birth it's been a 24hr non stop interruption marathon. (Finding this site HAS helped.) My thoughts are this. You must let go of the idea that you can do two jobs at once or be two people. I think you will find happiness in letting go of the idea that you can accomplish a task list in that kind of environment. Another thought is when someone approaches simply and politely say "I am helping another person for just another moment. If you can wait I will be happy to help." Most people are civilized to wait their turn. Especially if they are in the know. If you are truly just answering with a paragraph you maybe able to finish and send the email in a short time. You do also have to put your own foot down. If there is another person that you are supposed to be referring people to, then do it. Even if that's just every fifth person, you have gained 20% of your time.

I hope that helps, I'm not sure I fully understand the details of your work, but I definitely empathize!