Setting the Day’s Mode
The most important step in aligning your actions with your goals is to pay attention to those moments when you catch yourself being distracted or avoiding a task. In each moment of decision, you have a golden opportunity to put yourself back on track and move forward.
As I go through my day, I eventually wake up from reading nice-to-know (as opposed to need-to-know) articles and notice that a significant chunk of time has passed. Good that I woke up, but how much better to have realized it sooner.
It turns out that I have two different work modes. The first is my normal mode where I go about my tasks and dip in and out of the reading-rabbit-hole. By the end of the day I have usually accomplished a moderate number of my goals. The second is my deadline mode, where I pull out all of the stops and really get things done.
In deadline mode, I place Post-its around reminding me to stay on task and set a timer to delineate my periods of work and relaxation. I find that this Pomodoro Technique of giving myself specific times to work and to deal with personal stuff is most effective for me. My only challenge is to not let myself get distracted during those work segments. If I’m in deadline mode, this is not so difficult because deadlines give a strong motivation to stay on track. In normal mode, it can be hit or miss.
Deadline mode feels powerful and purposeful. The stress that is an integral part of it feels exciting. Seeing my rapid progress toward my goals drives me onward. But deadline mode is not sustainable. The article-rabbit-hole sessions add to my well roundedness, and Facebook forays help keep me connected. I find that having a balance between these two modes works best for me.
What keeps me on purpose is to start my work day by choosing which mode to embody. Some days I choose to dive into deadline mode in the morning and relax into normal mode in the afternoon. By setting an intention for one or the other, I remain in control of the process.