Do you have 48 hours to your day?

I have often been asked this question, how do you manage to do so much in a day? The answer is twofold; because of the person I am and because of the work ethics I have been brought up with. As a person I am a man on the move. A desk job in any form would kill me. But what also compliments this energy is the work ethics I was brought up with; work hard. While we were not poor as church mice we clearly were taught to do our own chores and contribute to the house work. As a school boy, I woke each day at five thirty am to go and stand in the milk line and then there was the government sponsored ration lines. We grew up queuing up for everything and doing everything manually.

Our maxim in those ‘good old days’ was, “work hard”. Today you need to work hard and smart and though I am still the old fashioned pen and notebook man, I make sure that I learn enough from the modern world to compete with the big boys.  Here are a few tips for working smart and hard.

  1. Make a list of the chores you have to do: Making a list is the smartest thing you can do and for heaven’s sake do it the good old fashioned pen and paper way. I have a book! The list should have a date at the top. Anything not done on one day gets moved to the top of the next day’s list. I colour code my list with highlighters; the most important ones are orange and the least important ones are yellow.

  2. Prioritize your list. While you may have colour coded your list into important and least important you also need to prioritize this list into urgent and ‘can do later’. While washing your car may be important because it looks like a mess it may not be urgent considering that you are locked down during the pandemic and can’t take your car out.

  3. Tackle achievables: Having made a list and prioritized the items, look for what in this list is achievable for you. You may hate cleaning and yet your closet needs to be arranged. The tornado you wrecked searching for your shirt or blouse now stares you in the face. Most people are overwhelmed with tasks that are difficult or complicated. Begin with achievables! Perhaps today you can do a shelf and that is a great start. Don’t overwhelm yourself to the point where you take on more than you can chew. If one shelf is achievable for you today then that’s what you should take on.

  4. Mix fun work with serious work: I love cooking; it however is also one of my chores for the day. On the other hand I don’t really like study time and yet I have to constantly upgrade my skill sets  which honestly I love to put off. To do this I intersperse cooking with study. This way I do one fun task and one challenging task.

  5. Re-visit your list: Mid-day is a great time to revisit your list. Perhaps you stuck to your scheduled list but an emergency did come up. Your day has now gone into a tail spin. Take some time off during the day and revisit your schedule to see how you could reprioritize your list. Remember our days are fluid and anything can come up.

  6. Give yourself a treat each time you achieve a major target. The operational word here is ‘major’. If your annual financial goal has been met because you worked smart and hard then you can go on your planned vacation as a treat. However your day could be peppered with many minor tasks that you achieved. Treat you self proportionately to the task achieved. I have a cup of black coffee.

  7. There is nothing like a victory score card: Twice a day, at noon at before bed time, scratch off all the things you have done. There is great joy in drawing a line across a task achieved. Rate yourself; if you have achieved even six out of ten major tasks you are an achiever.

  8. Social media is the biggest time waster in your day: My IPhone tells me how many hours I spent on social media and while it is true that much of our work is transacted via our phones it is also true that the same gadget is a honey trap of wasted hours.  Limit your social media viewing to restricted times. I set a time twice a day to deal with whatsap messages and other social media platforms. Don’t convince yourself that you are so important that every buzz on your phone warrants your urgent attention. Within this time I also set an alarm that reminds me to stop and move on with my tasks. Also, every time your phone rings it does not mean you have to answer. If engaged with a task that must be completed I politely ask my caller to call me an hour later or I return their call when I am done. Don’t let your day be hijacked with social media or unnecessary phone calls.

  9. Learn to delegate: Your list may have several items that don’t require you to do it. The problem with perfectionist is that they want everything set at right angles and hence end up doing everything leaving them with a sense of being overwhelmed. Delegation helps you focus on tackling those concerns which only your skill sets can get the job done.

  10. Take some me time off: ‘Me time’ does not mean you’re selfish; it’s a time to recharge your battery and sharpen your axe. If your axe is blunt because you are tired and worn out then no matter how hard you work your achievables won’t show. Your productivity decreases and you’re working hard but not smart. ‘Me time’ can be a mix of prayer, exercise, meditation, recreation.

To sum it up, stop living a 48 hour day, enjoy the 24 hour schedule God created.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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