Last Thursday in my weekly post on the Roommates4Boomers blog, I talked about how I wasn’t sure how I was going to get everything done that I’d like to get done – this in contrast to the seemingly persistent view of the “retiree” as an aimless old soul, shuffling about life without purpose or drive. I know I’m not alone in asking “Who the hell is that? No one I know!”
I need help like a kid in a candy store – what to choose, which first, how to pick the best and enjoy it the most, and most of all, how to have it all – yes, all!? The passing years don’t bring a sense of slowing down and not wanting to do much anymore. They bring mounting panic.
I found a resource that I thought might help me – and you too – if you’re feeling a growing pressure and scattered feeling when you think about trying to get everything done that you want to do.
Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of the best-selling Emotional Intelligence 2.0, offers five steps that he says he uses to organize and declutter his mind, find flow, and keep himself on track for a productive day every day. Well, bully for him. I would like to try to achieve just one or two of those objectives with semi-daily regularity, knock on wood. So here goes: Dr. Bradberry’s wisdom in a nutshell:
1. Don’t Let It Be Too Hard Or Too Easy
When the task at hand is either too difficult or too simple, says Dr. Bradberry, you tend to lose focus. Um, what? I’m sorry, but how do you choose, exactly, just the right task for yourself? Life isn’t an occupational therapy class.
On to item number 2.
2. Control Your Emotions
You can’t actually control how you’re feeling, says the doctor, but make it a practice to be honest about what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. From there, it’s just a matter of channeling your emotions into the behavior that you want. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Have you not come up against an angry, frustrated 63-year-old woman, doctor? My advice is, just stay out of my way. Thank you.
3. Keep Focused
The good doctor says it takes about twenty minutes to get fully immersed in a task, and once you’ve reached that sweet spot, you’re cooking. Yesssss, welllll… probably there is scientific evidence that this is true, but not in my house. I have the matter of the phone that rings 19 times a day from telemarketers and scam calls. In an effort to stop the automated add-to-call-back-list-if-they-pick-up cycle, I just let it ring. ANNOY-ing! Then there is the UPS guy who, if he has a package for me, sprints up the walk, beep-beeps with his scanner gun, bangs the package down, and then pounds on the door in a rapid one-two. It’s like a fighter’s punch to the brain. Then there’s my 88-year-old next door neighbor, Janet, whom I dearly love, and if she calls me – which is rare – my heart pounds and I’m grabbing the phone and jumping up and stumbling for the door all at once. Then there’s Owen, in the backyard behind ours, age 5, who must, I mean absolutely MUST Tarzan-yell upon being released into the wilds of the back garden every day. It’s delightfully free and I cannot NOT hear it. Ya gotta laugh. Then there are my daughters, one of whom lives in Cleveland and one in Cape Town, South Africa. If either calls, I have to take it – I mean I HAVE TO. Those calls are food for my soul, gold for my emotional bank account, always good for a great laugh no matter what’s going in their lives good or bad. They’re just damned funny and I love them. I’m not gonna miss their calls.
If I want to really, really focus, I go to Starbucks. There, the people and the sounds swirl around me, I am invisible, and I get shit done like crazy.
4. Take Breaks
The recommended work cycle for greatest productivity is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of break time. I’m down with that. But, but… a really, really refreshing break is watching the next one in the Law & Order The Original Series episodes that I have lined up on my DVR in chronological order. That’s 42 minutes right there. (I’m not a time waster; I speed through the commercials. (Whiny voice.)) Does that make me three times more productive, or three times less? I wonder, but I don’t care.
5. Shift Back Into Your Work Quickly After Your Break
Like, he says, do steps 1 through 3 really really fast… and you can get back to another productive 52 minutes of work right quick. Yeah, I would, but by now, if I’ve shifted gears, no doubt I’ve misplaced my glasses, or I need to print out a shipping label for something that sold on eBay while I was watching good ol’ Jerry Orbach, or I need to check all my clients’ folders for email, or the back door to Owen’s house slams and here he comes.
My advice for this whole productivity thing? Soldier on. That is all.