If you often feel like you spend every day at work pushing a large boulder up a hill (only to come in tomorrow morning and find it has rolled to the bottom again), maybe you need to stop reading business books and get more practical advice.
Here's my recommendation: Flylady.
Don't know Flylady? It's the nom de guerre of housecleaning and organizing guru Marla Cilley. Flylady is also the name of Ms. Cilley's multi-million dollar company, which dispenses advice (and sells products) to homemakers and other people who want a cleaner house and a more organized life.
Although Flylady's focus is on keeping your house clean and clutter-free, her philosophy is just as applicable to succeeding at work. Here are five small things you can do right now (after you finish reading this) that will make a big difference in your energy and productivity:
- Shine your "sink." If you're a new member of the Flylady method, you learn that the first thing you should do is march into your kitchen, wash your dishes and polish your sink. The idea is this: A pristine sink provides positive reinforcement to encourage you to keep going. On the job, apply this principle by keeping your workspace neat and your to-do list close at hand. Cross off every task you complete. Revel in each mission you've accomplished.
- Take baby steps. Ms Cilley is a proponent of breaking down a big job into small steps. Don't try to clean the whole house in one go: Concentrate on one room or even a few discrete chores. This approach is just as effective at work. Got a big report to create? Start by opening the template, then collect all the data, etc.
- Work for just 15 minutes at a time. Don't exhaust yourself, says Flylady. Set a timer and commit to just 15 minutes. When time is up, stop and rest or move onto something else. This technique is brilliant for three reasons. First, it eliminates procrastination. Second, it creates focus. And third, you don't get bored.
- Get rid of stuff. Ms. Cilley believes that "clutter can't be organized;" the only way to put things in order is to get rid of the excess. The same rule applies to email and paper. I'm a fan of Flylady's "27-fling boogie," where you attack an area (like a closet or drawer) and fill a big plastic garbage bag full of stuff you don't use. You can use the same technique to delete emails or declutter your workspace.
- Stop trying to be perfect. One of the reasons people love Flylady is that she's so warm and loving. (A typical message: "You are not behind! I don't want you to catch up. Just jump in where you are.") Ms. Cilley believes that trying to be perfect is a) impossible, and b) stops people from getting things done (because they don't think they can do something perfectly.) Yes, you want to do great work, but remember that "good enough is good enough," in the words of Flylady.
Ready to start flying?