How you start something so often sets the tone for what comes next. For me, personally, I find that if my start to the week starts well then the rest of the week seems to go well too. And if the start of the week doesn’t start so well then it can take time for things to improve.
This started me thinking as to why this might be. For me at least I think it comes from getting the right emotional state at the beginning of the week. If the weekend has been chaotic for whatever reason then my mind is often so full of ‘what if’s and ‘if only this had happened’ that it can be difficult to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
Of course each week doesn’t start like this, thankfully. Even when the weekend has been busy but a little less chaotic this seems to allow more focus to come at the start of the week. That lack of chaos and uncertainty over what can’t be controlled but could impact me seems to enable me to think more clearly about what needs to be down in the week ahead and what I want to achieve.
De-Cluttering The Mind
When I sat down and thought about what might be behind how my week starts there was something else that, when I thought about it, clog things up for me. It’s to do with having a large number of relatively unimportant but necessary tasks to get done that build up over a period of time, but which I don’t get round to clearing. To me it’s like noise in the back of my mind, clutter if you like, that prevents me focussing on the interesting things I want to get done. It’s taken me a while to figure this out but I know it’s true. When I finally get round to clearing out that clutter of small scale ‘things to do’ I feel really good, energised even, as if a weight has been lifted from my mind.
None of this is mind-blowingly dramatic or new even and really does highlight to some degree Stephen Covey’s importance verses urgency box in his well known matrix. Although in my case I’d argue that those ‘things to do’ are necessary as opposed to important. Perhaps there’s a middle ground between important and not important?
So what’s the solution to starting the week in as positive a frame of mind as possible? This doesn’t have to be just about the start of the week, it equally applies to any piece of work or project. Well, a clear mind, de-cluttered of that low level noise (administrative tasks perhaps) would appear to be part of the solution. Whether it’s a case of setting aside a set period of time each day or week to ensure those tasks get cleared or they are delegated or sub-contracted doesn’t really matter.
The Emotional Start To The Week
There’s also something about the emotional state you start the week with and how your weekend leaves your mind. I sometimes think it would be great to set aside our emotional states using a penseive as Professor Dumbledore does with memories in the Harry Potter books. What works for me is a period of relaxation at the start of each week before the hustle and bustle begins. Not quite the same as a penseive but it works just as well for me. The thing is though, how many of us make sure we have that time scheduled in or feel we are able to make that time available?
I’ve learnt that to ensure I’m in the best frame of mind to start my week I need to:
- Keep on top of those energy sapping necessary but not so important tasks. I either set aside regular time to keep the list short or, and this is far less preferable, have a purge once that list gets too large.
- Ensure I have a short period of time at the start of each week to relax, focus on what I want to get achieved and de-couple from any chaos or activity around me. This is important when I recognize that I may start the week in a less than ideal frame of mind but works equally well (and is a little easier) when the weekend has been just fine.
These two tips might work for you or might not but if you find it difficult at times to get the week started in the way you would wish then feel free to try them out. Or perhaps you have your own tried and tested approach. Either way please use the comments to share what’s working best for you.
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© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2014.