Back in the stone age the next task was often predetermined by bare necessity. When people had not much choice but to go hunting when hungry or rebuild the roof of their huts immediately after the storm, there was little need for formal systems to bring order and organisation to the task of daily life. But our times are different, we have secured our immediate needs and hence over-ridden immediate necessity as an organising force. On most days we have choice what to do and when to do it.
You know the days when you sit in front of your computer to start working and you’re not exactly sure what to do first? On these days I usually end up checking my email and distracting myself with all sorts of minuscule tasks – reading blog posts, checking the wave forecast, and entertaining my mind with random facts and pieces of information. Doing all this creates the illusion of productivity. I spend two hours on the internet without really getting things done – I start feeling unproductive and crave a coffee as I feel my energy level decreasing. But really, how could I feel productive when I have not clearly specified what it is I wanted to get done and in which order. I am not organised, therefore I am not feeling I am doing the things I should be doing.
Being organised is not only making you more productive, you also feel more productive which makes your work or whatever you’re doing a whole lot more satisfying. Initially it may seem like a whole lot of administrative effort to fill every half hour slot of your Google Calender with things you want to get done. It certainly did to me – and it still does at times. It’s just another habit, another way of operating. It makes you aware how much you can get done in a day if you fill out all your time slots. Over time it may improve your ability to estimate realistically how long things take and so improves your time management. And most importantly, it makes you more productive and you also feel that way – which I find super satisfying. You end up being more focused when every task has its place and there is only one option of what to do in any given moment. And focused is fun, because it’s those fully engaged, focused moments when we forget that we’re working, when we waste no thought on what we rather would be doing and can wholly enjoy what we’re currently doing.
Next time you feel you’re not quite clear on what to do today, or feel distracted or jumping between tasks, it might help you take a break and organise your day before you proceed. Not because it’s more ‘productive’, but because it will make your day more fun and enjoyable.