Unquestionably, 2020 was one strange year and demonstrated to us all that generally, we can’t guard against unforeseen intrusions into our daily lives, but we can do our best with what we have.
Each day when you compose your to-do list and proceed merrily down it, do you pause and take into account what could occur in the course of that day? Leading up to, say, the height of the tax season, or months away from it, no matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the products and tasks, nevertheless, unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off.
How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you receive an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.
Proceed and Succeed
If you’re like most people, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day.
Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish? I believe that there is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle.
Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.
If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.
Allowing for the Unexpected
Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this.
Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.
So, when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed with the mindset that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question for you is: can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?
The good news is that you surely can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.
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