It sounds counterintuitive but limiting your options can help you perform better. The idea is that avoiding relatively insignificant daily decisions preserves your brain’s executive function for more critical tasks. It’s why Steve Jobs limited his daily wardrobe to jeans and a black turtleneck.
One way to help yourself is to always identify your three major daily priorities for the day. That way you know exactly where your focus needs to be. As people ask for your time (“It’ll just take a second,” “Could you join our brainstorming right now?” “I need help on Project X, can you come over?”), you can evaluate their requests against your priorities and make the best decision for you.
Another tactic is to consciously establish a routine that helps you perform at your best. The key here is consciously. Think about what tasks require the most brainpower and schedule them earlier in your day. When do people tend to come to you for help or input? Try not to schedule important meetings for that time of day.
Protect your time with strong boundaries. If you’ve designated time for a special project and someone tries to interrupt, don’t let them. It’s not that you won’t help them, it’s that you won’t help them now. Manage their expectations by telling them when you’ll be available.
Putting these approaches into practice will help you not only accomplish more, it will make you feel like you’ve made a lot more progress.
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