It’s nearly impossible to operate at maximum productivity each day. This means many of us are bound to fall off track at one time or another. Maybe you wake up late, fall victim to too many distractions, something else pops up, or just don’t feel motivated. Regardless of the reason, we all fall behind on some days.
Falling behind schedule can cause you to feel more stressed and overwhelmed as things start to pile on your plate. It’s important not to beat yourself up about falling behind and instead focus on some steps you can take to fix your schedule and get back on track.
Here are 6 key things to tell yourself when you fall behind schedule for the day, so you can jumpstart your focus and productivity.
It’s Time to Prioritize Tasks
There may be less time in the day to work on important things once you fall behind schedule. However, this just means that you need to prioritize tasks. Determine 1 or 2 things that need to get done by a set deadline. See if you can push back other less important tasks and focus on your prioritize for the remainder of the time that you have.
As humans, we generally underestimate how much we can done or how long some processes will take. As a result, you’re probably already used to piling too much in your calendar in the first place. Falling behind schedule can be seen as a blessing in disguise because it practically forces you to focus only on the most important tasks that will move you forward during the day.
I Must Not Be Motivated to Do __________
You may fall behind schedule for the day because you don’t feel motivated to work on a specific task. Often times, we procrastinate on the things we don’t want to do and it causes us to lose time in the day. Identify which tasks you’re not motivated to do and why.
Determine whether there’s anything you can do to help you make more motivated and inspired to take on the task. Maybe you could start preparing the night before or break the task up into smaller, more manageable chunks. Make sure you leverage your energy levels during the day and you can also get motivated by promising yourself a small reward once you finish the task.
What Can I Focus on For the Next 10 to 20 Minutes?
Try not to spend too much time worry about being behind and just start doing something for a few minutes. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with my schedule or behind for the day, I try to commit to doing something on my to-do list for at least 10 minutes. Odds are, I am able to keep working on whatever it is for much longer so I’ll just keep adding 10-minute increments.
The best way to get out of a ditch is with a shovel so as you work on tasks productively (even if only for 20 minutes) you’ll slowly start getting back on track and crossing things off.
How Can I Change Around My Schedule For the Day?
If you’re a planner, you may love setting up your schedule and calendar for the day. However, you’ll want to be sure that your schedule is flexible and easy to change because plans change all the time.
Maybe you planned to get up early to work on something but got pulled into a meeting that lasted 2 hours. Then after doing some follow up work you get hungry and grab lunch. After lunch, you realize that you’re severely behind on your work. The day isn’t panning out how you planned at all.
One thing you can control is how you react and switch your schedule around. For this particular example, it may involve tacking on an extra hour or two to work during the afternoon. Or, perhaps you can postpone a meeting the following day and use the time to catch up.
The key is to keep a detailed calendar so you know when your breaks are, which tasks are flexible, and what should be prioritized over everything.
Can Someone Help Me with Some of This Work?
Don’t feel that you have to take on tasks all by yourself. If you fall behind schedule for the day, reach out to coworkers or team members to see if anyone can help.
You may want to divvy up some of the work among multiple people or outsource to a contractor who can get some things done in the span of a few days.
Either way, it takes more off your plate so you can focus on what’s most important.
It’s Okay. Let’s Plan For a Better Day Tomorrow
Sometimes, things just don’t go as expected for the productive day you planned and that’s okay. Forgot to exercise? Ran out of time to email someone back? Didn’t make enough progress on a particular project? Don’t beat yourself up about certain setbacks and distractions especially if they are out of your control. If you focused on 1 or 2 main priorities, you still have a successful day.
What you can do is cut yourself some slack and gain experience to help you do better with your scheduled tasks on future days. Make some extras effort to plan for a better tomorrow and set yourself up for success.
What do you do when you fall behind schedule for the day? What do you avoid and which steps do you take to bounce back?