Some will make copious cups of tea to soften the hit, others will put together a neat list of things ‘to do’ and some will start the day by booking a holiday to give themselves a carrot to look forward to.
So how to have a productive Tuesday and leave work early?
A couple of years ago I read a book by the master of productivity, Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week, and I changed the way I now deal with work. I work more effectively, and at the end of every day I feel satisfied with the results - a breakthrough really from the times I used to feel guilty about never accomplishing enough in a day.
Imagine that at 12 o’clock today you will get a phone call about an urgent problem at home: a pipe burst in your bathroom and is flooding your neighbour so you’d have to leave at once and deal with it. You now have only three hours to get through your ‘to do’ list for the day. Impossible? Let’s see.
What are the three most critical things you have to do? Write down the workstreams which will really break the back of the project you are working on, the accomplishments which will impress your boss, something you know will take a weight off your shoulders. No doubt, your actual ‘to do’ list is much more elaborate but remember, you only have three hours, so think of what matters most.
Now it’s time to focus and get these three things done. It may take you two and a half hours to prepare a concise presentation, 15 minutes to call a client and 20 minutes to interview a new PA. You may not even get things done in three hours but once you’ve tackled your priorities, you’ll get a sense of achievement. Since there is no actual flood in your bathroom, you can now address lower priorities, cleaning up your inbox, going through less urgent but more fun tasks or indeed take it easy. There is no need to stay late either because you’ve ticked the most important boxes, and there is always tomorrow to do the rest.
This modus operandi worked very well for me last year when I got ill and could not count on having more than three hours of energy per day. I simply had to prioritise when I knew that fatigue could abruptly cut off my day at any moment.
It is of course not always possible to apply this system when clients, colleagues and superiors intervene, but if you ever feel overwhelmed with work, this trick will save the day and keep your sanity intact.