I Worked Like Crazy, But Have No Idea What I Did

I worked like crazy all day, but have no idea what I did.

That headline is a quote from a conversation I had with a coaching client recently.

Her statement rings true in a way I think most of us can relate to.

We all have days when we seem to be working like crazy, but at the end of the day have trouble describing precisely what it was we achieved or produced.

When that happens, it is often because our workday was fragmented into multiple pieces, each focused on a different project, or on different aspects of the same project.

We don’t really remember what we did, because our mind was being wrenched from one direction to another, time and time again, hour after hour.

This process of shifting your attention in multiple directions, many times a day, is a hugely inefficient way of working.

Your brain cannot smoothly and efficiently shift from project to project every few minutes.

Consciously, you think you can make frequent transitions from project to project seamlessly.

Unconsciously, that isn’t happening.

Here is an analogy for you.

Imagine you are the master of ceremonies at a high school for an evening show featuring two school bands. The first band finishes, the curtain falls, and you step out to talk to the audience about the next band.

For you and the audience, the transition from one band to another is no big deal.

But on stage, behind the curtain, there is a flurry of activity. Equipment and instruments are being changed, the first band is taking all of its stuff with them, the new band is taking position, making sure they have everything they need, tuning their instruments. Lighting is being adjusted. And so on.

When the curtain rises, the new band is smiling, as if the whole transition were effortless.

But it wasn’t.

It’s the same when your mind tries to shift from one project to another.

Your brain has to put away all the information it was processing for project number one, then gather together and organize everything it needs to deal with project number two.

It’s no wonder my client felt she had been busy, but didn’t remember what she did.

She was trying to change bands three times an hour, all day long.

And she wonders why she didn’t remember any of the music.

The bottom line is this. Organize your day to include as few band-changes as possible.

Segment your day, and minimize the number of times everything has to be changed behind the curtain.

That way, you’ll get a great deal more done, and you’ll actually remember what the bands were playing.

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Published: May 26, 2010

1 Response to “I Worked Like Crazy, But Have No Idea What I Did”

  1. In some industries, organizing your day is not practical because it is assuming that everything will go as plan. However, unplanned chaos do happen, & for that, my favorite tool is the little black-book of to-do's, questions, answers, contacts, progress etc. as well as a good memory.


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