By Jeff Davidson
Whether you work for a large organization, a small accounting firm, or are self-employed, within the course of the workweek you'll undoubtedly encounter a variety of irritations, frustrations, and annoyances. Everyone does. Psychologically, issues often loom larger than they actually are: A daily irritation, unchecked, could have an accumulating impact on your peace of mind and your sense of equanimity. In combination with your larger and more important tasks, a minor, recurring annoyance could potentially dissipate some of your focus and energy.
I've found that if you can address three small annoyances early in the workday, you often are able to clear away "space" to be at your best more often.
Why handle three annoyances? Why not six, eight, or more? Because three is a manageable number. Three enables you to gain a sense of accomplishment, however small, and still have most of your day available to devote adequate time to what's truly important.
If you only seek to resolve workplace annoyances, you end up dissipating your vital energy for those times when it's needed. Also, you run the risk of actively seeking small, unimportant tasks in lieu of bigger, more important tasks. That's a path you don't want to traverse.
Something as minor as opening or closing the window based on what's going on outside obviously can make a huge difference in your ability to concentrate on large tasks. For example, if the landscaping crew is working outside of your building on the morning you need to tackle a complex project, simply closing the window and turning on the fan, or some white noise substitute, will help mask external sounds.
Handle What Has Lingered Too Long
A less obvious challenge involves handling issues that have been allowed to linger – whether or not they're your primary responsibility – so that you feel a sense of satisfaction and closure. This helps you establish an environment in which you feel good about launching full steam into your important projects at hand.
If you work in a group office and you have shelves with key resources that have been allowed to fall into disarray, spending a few minutes to organize them can do wonders for your psyche. While having shelves in disarray doesn't physically block your ability to start a key project, we've all experienced how completing one small task helps give us more focus and energy and direction for what's next. This isn't a form of procrastination: mental clearings can and do occur as a result of taking care of minor annoyances.
Again and Again
When you take care of three such annoyances in the course of a given day and for the balance of the day achieve consistent productivity, you help to establish an environment where a desired level of productivity can be achieved again and again in subsequent days. The next day, you take care of three small annoyances, then another three the next day.
The cumulative effect of putting small issues to bed, then tackling larger issues head on might change your whole attitude about where you work, how you perform, and the job itself.
About the author:
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written fifty-nine mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and USA Today. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "consummate speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website www.BreathingSpace.com.