Know your limitations to make each day a success.

Sick Day

As I’m writing this, I’m feeling particularly rundown. I think it’s just a cold, but whatever it is, I’m not at 100%.

Some people would choose to take this opportunity to stay in bed all day and rest up. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. It’s not that I don’t agree with the idea, or that I look down on those who do. I’m just not very good at it. I would probably make a terrible meditator.

Being at less than 100% means that you can’t get everything done. Sometimes it’s really obvious. If you just broke your leg, you know you can’t go jogging today. Other times it’s more subtle. Having a head cold isn’t life altering, but it’s still a terrible time to make any profound decisions. If you’re stuffed up, exhausted, and dizzy, this isn’t the day to change your business plan or appear on Jeopardy.

Trying to get work done today reminded me of something David Allen said in Getting Things Done. Part of deciding what tasks to perform has to do with what you’re capable of doing at that moment, not just what’s at the top of your list. Papers need to be shredded, and desktops need to be cleaned. If you’re feeling uninspired or rundown, this is the perfect time to accomplish those mindless tasks. It doesn’t make sense to do these when you’re on a roll with a big project.

I think a big part of productivity comes down to expectations. The bar you set for yourself should be ever changing. Some days getting 10 tasks completed is a win. Other days it will be 1, but it might be a really important task. The point is, be aware of that.

Don’t equate < 10 tasks = loss. Find ways to make every day a success.

For me, I’m amazed I got through this post. Hopefully it’s somewhat coherent. If not, my apologies. Now that it’s done, I think I’ll go organize my paperclips.