Beat the clock. - Part 113 May, 2011, by Seema Bhatnagar
You must have experienced many a times, that your mind is always thinking on something or other and there is always an inner chatter going on about tasks that needs to be completed or may be the mails which you need to respond, meeting to attend or may be about visiting a doctor coming weekend. Sometimes, when you are sitting in a meeting, your mind starts wandering and start its own story and keep you completely occupied in that, you simply forget that you are attending a meeting.
A typical day at work demands one to handle phone calls, attend meetings, answer mails, completing tasks at hand, handling some unexpected urgency etc. After all this, at home front also, one needs to spend time with family, cook meals and other errands which demands time. With all this to handle, there is hardly any time left to relax, in fact, sometimes it feels as if a day of 24 hours is very short, why can't it be a bit longer.
Realty CheckLets visit one day of life of Mr. Smart to understand if you also share the same experience
Mr. Smart, gets up on Monday morning, feeling fresh and happy, after attending weekend party at his friend's place last
night. Feeling fresh and renewed he reaches to work with full enthusiasm, thinking, that today I would complete all my pending
tasks and would leave home timely in the evening to spend quality time with my family. But, on reaching office Mr. Smart,
realizes that God has different plans for him and finds that his mailbox has few mission critical mails to be answered
immediately, followed by a meeting with boss. By the time he completes answering mission critical mails, he discovers that
it is almost a lunch time and he has just answered 2 mails when he has a pile of tasks to be completed. Feeling compelled by
the situation, he decided to stay back in the evening to complete all his pending tasks. He starts thinking about what to do
and what not to do, as he finds all the tasks are important and want to close all of them as soon as possible. Eventually, he
finds himself in complete chaos.
Oops..his plan of spending evening with family is crushed to pieces by divinity. Well said, Man proposes, God disposes...indeed. This loop continues forever and Mr. Smart never gets sight of his To Do list completed and always finds himself juggling between work and home.
Personally speaking, I too had similar experiences, working with constant pressure and in a race to beat the clock. Sometimes, it was resolving just one project issue and one long meeting which used to eat up my whole day, forget about reading or answering some important mails. All this means putting in extra hour everyday in the hope of completing all pending tasks. It used to feel, as if I have no control over things and I am not able to focus on tasks.
ProblemsSo what are the different problems faced by people, who are constantly juggling between work and home responsibilities.
- Lack of concentration: People find themselves lacking concentration in work since they are always distracted by one thing or other. In the back of their mind, there is always something which is going on, due which it is difficult to focus on task at hand.
- Stressful life: Since mind is always working under pressure to meet crazy deadlines, stress becomes a constant companion. People don't even realize that they are under stress and keep on working in the same state.
- Falling behind the schedule: Constant distractions from people, mails, phones and stress together work as a devil and eats up time due to which some more important activities remains incomplete and eventually results in missed milestones.
- Strained relationships: Due to incomplete tasks and pending activities, there could be a mismatch of expectations between bosses or team members which eventually results in strained relationships. Due to extra hours at work, family also gets neglected and it adds to personal guilt of neglecting family and in worst cases it might result in strained relationships with spouse.
- Low confidence: A constant lack of concentration and presence of heavy stress impacts confidence. An individual starts feeling having low confidence and find work less motivated. The fear of failure starts lurking in mind.
- Fear of extra responsibilities: Due to lack of confidence, there is a fear in accepting extra responsibilities which further hinders the performance and growth of an individual.
- Fear of making mistakes: Again, due to lack of confidence and concentration, there is a constant fear of making mistakes and one works very safely.
- Fear of taking up challenges and new ideas: Due to all above mentioned problems, an individual hesitates in taking up new challenges and new ideas to work upon, which ultimately makes him/her to work within conventions.
- Quality compromise: A low morale, lack of creativity, lack of motivation culminates in a product/service with compromised quality.
- Low health: Last but not the least, all problems which are related to mind manifest themselves in bad health. A prolonged period of stress becomes a reason of multiple health problems. Due to busyness of schedule, an individual pays least attention to body and food. This is in fact a turning point, where one realizes, how I can improve the quality of my work and life.
I am sure, you will have many more such questions, like, can there be a better way to handle work related problems?
How can I improve my productivity? Is there a scope of bringing change in my lifestyle? Can I live a stress free life?
Let's explore a concept and understand the root cause of all these problems.
Our mind is a greatest power we have in our hand. It works like a radar and keeps detecting all the actions, tasks,
incomplete tasks which needs to be completed. Even when you try to stop yourself from thinking, your mind starts thinking on
its own. This is due to the fact that our mind is wired in such a manner that it has a tendency to bring logical endings to
tasks or thoughts. This idea is beautifully presented in a book Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Our mind has a temporary memory area like RAM (Random Access Memory, like, computer has) which keeps collecting the tasks and information which it has to act upon. Like all others things, it has its own capacity and when it reaches beyond its capacity we experience chaos and stress in our life. When the temporary memory of mind is working to its full capacity.
Yes, even computers works with the concepts of buckets, similar to our mind. Remember, memory bucket is only for collecting information which is required for a shorter period, for storing information which would be needed in long-term, there is separate area assigned in our brain. So, for gathering information, our mind make use of memory buckets, which gets cleared up when tasks or information has reached to its logical ending.
Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action. David Kekich
Without taking into account any health problem, probably, the single most reason of stressful and chaotic life is our lack of control over things and our preparation about taking meaningful actions. In Beat the clock. Series, Part II, we will explore how we can plan better about organizing meaningful actions, what are the best practices and techniques to organize actions and how you can adopt these practices in daily life to improve your productivity and how you can enjoy a stress free life.Read Part II here