Order is everything

Photo courtesy of B.S. Wise (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of B.S. Wise (Creative Commons)

One of the highlights of my weekend is my long run on Saturdays and I have a particular route that is 10 miles long. I’ve done it so often that I know pretty much where I hit my mile markers and I can internally challenge and encourage myself, especially when I get toward the end.

Occasionally, I will run a half marathon as an extra challenge, so I basically have to add 3 extra miles to my regular route. Several times in the past, I’ve done this and added the extra miles at the end, which was tough both physically and mentally, since I was hitting mile markers what would normally be near the end, yet I still had several miles to go. The sequence was out of order.

This time, however, I decided to do the extra miles first, and then finish with my regular route. It was so much better because toward the end, I could just go on autopilot. I knew that when I hit what is usually the 8 mile mark with only 2 to go – it was now the 11 mile mark with still only 2 to go. I could tell myself, “You’ve got this!” The sequence really made a difference.

I realized I need to use a more logical sequence as I approach my work day – with the newer, more difficult tasks or projects first thing in the morning, when I’m fresh, instead of at the end of the day when it is harder to focus. As the day goes on, I can take care of the more routine tasks, knowing that I’ve gotten some good things accomplished already. Motivation is easier when I know the worst is behind me.

What I usually do is check my email and voice mail first thing, then get sucked into a spiral of responding to other people and taking on their priorities. It is sometimes nearly lunchtime before I get busy on what I intended to do first thing.

While for my particular job, it is important to be responsive to people, in most cases, I could wait an hour or two in order to get some focused work done early. If I plan the things I want to accomplish the afternoon before, then I will have an agenda and be ready to hit the ground running in the morning. The order I do things does matter to my motivation and productivity.

How would a better sequence make a difference in your productivity?