Making a little progress every day is really important to staying motivated and happy in your work. But when you feel like you are getting pulled in a hundred different directions, as many nonprofit communicators are, that can be tough.
Experts recommend that you develop “progress rituals.” Here are 5 I like. Let us know which ones work best for you!
Pick Just One Thing a Day
Your to-do list is way too long, right? I used to try to narrow the list to 5 things or even 3 things that I wanted to get done that day. But if I got 2 out of 3 done, I felt like I’d failed. So now, I often pick just one important thing. I try to make it truly important, not just urgent. If I can get that ONE thing done, I will consider the day a success.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t tackle other things, or quit as soon as the one thing is achieved. But it does mean that I don’t beat myself up about the rest of it, and I allow myself to chalk it up as a “good day” if the one important selected to-do gets done.
Actively Manage Your Decision Points
If you bounce from call to email to writing to meeting to interruptions to meeting to Facebook, try this. Immediately upon finishing a task, get very intentional about what you do next.
If you are really bouncing around, you might have 10 or 15 decision points in one day! Stop. Take a few breaths. Think about how much time you have before the next locked-in thing on your schedule. What is the best thing to do next, in the time you have? Get yourself off of autopilot and really think.
Savor each decision point in your day. Plan your decision points in advance. Don’t start a new task without consciously deciding it’s the right one. Literally say to yourself, “This is a decision point.”
Play Your Theme Song
You’ll find lots of advice about meditating or taking a walk to refocus your energy during the day. But let’s face it: that’s just not happening on a hectic day.
But even on the craziest days, you can pop in your ear buds for 30 seconds and play a snippet of one of your favorite songs. We know that music can motivate us and make us feel more successful when exercising, and the same can be true at work. I’ve found that the songs I have on my workout playlist are actually pretty good for helping me power through work too.
While I personally don’t like to listen to music when I am writing (it’s too distracting), I’ve found that listening to a song or two on my workout playlist can be just as uplifting when I’m feeling off-track and floundering at work. Personal favorites these days for getting back on track are The Greatest by Sia and Formation by Beyonce (#WeSlay).
Start a Progress Journal
It doesn’t have to involve deep thoughts or much time at all. You can even do it on your phone on your commute home. But each day, take a minute or two to jot down three accomplishments from your day, no matter how small. If that sounds like too much, how about a one-sentence journal? It’s not the length that matters — it’s the reflecting on wins, no matter how small, that counts.
Put it on Your Meeting Agenda
Publicly sharing progress and little wins is another great way to stay on track. We start the beginning of every group call in our Communications Director Mentoring Program with this kind of sharing. You could add it to the agenda of one of your regular meetings. If you know it’s on the agenda, you are more likely to think about it ahead of time. It’s not only a great way to stay on track, but it also helps participants connect with each other on a human level.
How do you remember to stay on track and celebrate progress even within the chaos of your work? Can you adapt any of these tips to work for you personally or even your team as a whole?