Our luggage was stolen during our holiday in Spain. I was forced to do some work to become an ordinary citizen and to get my life sorted again. I found out that the fastest and cheapest way to get things done would be to go to Germany. I started preparing a three working days trip to Munich. The first two days were packed with meetings and councils visits, the third one was a time in reserve, just in case that something went wrong. The weekend after was scheduled for my best friend and her family.
Against my expectations and fear nothing went wrong and I had one more day for relaxing. I realised that this time I did a couple of things right and put some notes together. Here my observation for you:
1.MAKE A LIST
The first thing my boyfriend and I did after the luggage was gone, was to set up an emergency to do list in a small notebook. We wrote down everything that we knew it needs to be re-done — from calling the bank for new cards up to buying new sets of underwear. I still keep the notebook now with me till the list is finished.
In general having a list is a good way to structure your work. It could be for a day; it could be for a week, a month or even a year. It gives you an overview and shows the direction where action needs to be taken.
Your list could be digital or analogue, whatever you feel comfortable. I prefer paper, handwriting, and sketching for small notes, but if you love working digital, smartsheet, todoist or asana offer fantastic support.
Or have a look here for a few more inspiration how to make the most of your to-do list.
2. START PLANNING ON TIME
How many of your friends can you bring together with a notice shorter than three days? Not a lot of them for sure.
It is the same if you want to meet several people in a short time slot. It becomes even harder if doctors, lawyers or administration workers are involved. For this reason, start planning on time is as important as the plan itself.
You will be surprised how easy it will be to set up a schedule convenient for you, which will allow you some space for rest as well. And this is my next point:
3. USE YOUR BREAKS TO RELAX AND TO SOMETHING THAT BRINGS YOU JOY!
On my trip, I didn’t plan any time for resting during the first two days. But I did have some spare time as a buffer between appointments. This time wasn’t needed so suddenly I had three hours fantastic extra time. I decided to do something that I would enjoy and went to Munich Westend, my former neighbourhood to spent some time in my favourite coffee shop. It was unexpected time just for me; I felt recovered and recharged and the time in Munich felt much more like being at home than doing business abroad.
The point is, you can make one more call, or visit one more friend, or read one more tweet in your spare time, but you will be more focused and relax for the next scheduled meeting if you just enjoy the free time before.
4. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND BE REALISTIC
In the past when I flew to Germany I wanted to visit and meet all of my friends there. It was a road trip on the train. After Tausend of kilometres and hours spent on the train, I was exhausted and stressed and didn’t want to meet anyone, but there was no choice because I was travelling to visit these guys. My advice:
Don’t pack the kitchen sink when you are travelling.
Don’t try to meet everyone who you know in the city or country you lived before.
Don’t write an impossible to-do list with more tasks on it than the hours of the day.
Decide what you want to achieve by the end of the day, the week or the business trip and work backwards how long you need. If it comes out that your working days have to be 20 hours long, then you expect too much. Figure out your priorities, get them done and have a valuable time with those you love afterwards.
5. DON’T THING IF YOU LIKE DOING SOMETHING. JUST DO TI!
A few years ago in my previous job a new colleague came to the office: Bea – young, high motivated and very fast working. I was impressed. And I was jealous.
It took me a while to come over it, and now I do appreciate her friendship and support. Once I asked her how she did manage to do all of this things at work, at home, at her spare time? She said: I just do it.
She didn’t think about if she likes to bring her shoes to the shoemaker – she just did it. The same with the tedious tasks at work, the flat cleaning, ironing, shopping groceries, everything. Bea just does it.
There is no secret here unless you consider “Don’t think” as an extension of the famous slogan “Just do it”. Anyway, don’t waste time thinking how low is your motivation, this is not going to help. But once you’ve done the task you will have relief, you will be better motivated and probably you will feel even proud of yourself!
Stay organised and relax, and I’ll see you back here soon.