Full Scream Ahead
In an effort to catch up - or keep up in some cases - the obvious answer is:
Thinking, planning and reflecting seem ridiculously counterintuitive! How can I get things done when I'm not actually, well, doing anything? This perspective can totally thwart the ability to look ahead - when your head is down and your nose is to the grindstone your view of the future - and possible problems - is limited.
Power of the Pause
I believe, and have seen it happen time and again, that the most important skill to learn is to hit the Pause Button at least once a week to plan as well as to take stock of what you have accomplished.
A common feature of the typical overwhelmed professional is that they are drastically more connected to what's undone than they are to any sense of accomplishment for what they are getting done ... which is ironically, usually quite a lot!
The Pause Button is the Breakfast Of Champions and has a structure that I teach to all my private clients and program students:
I. Each week assemble the following ingredients:
1. Last week's calendar / schedule of actions
2. Your OPEN ITEMS list - an ongoing list of one-off actions divided by category (Well Being, Finance, Household, Business, Community, Leisure)
3. Any PROJECT PLANs - with line items listed chronologically
4. A clear selection of your PRIORITIES
5. And to circle back to the calendar - recurring items, especially in some of what I consider to be 'non-negotiable' domains like exercise, hard-wired appointments, etc. should be already factored in with blocks of time. This gives you the ability to see the 'white space' and the realistic options when you can add the cumulative open items (or not add on some weeks!).
II. Review the previous week - note your accomplishments as well as what didn't happen. Acknowledge what you achieved and learn from what you did not. Consider whether it didn't happen due to 'chronic avoidance' (you aren't even sure why you keep it on the calendar) or inappropriate timing (perhaps a different time of day or day of the week should be considered) or unavoidable circumstances (you were sick, for example).
Did you set yourself up for 'failure' last week? Are you building a harder tomorrow or an easier, more appropriate schedule for the next week? Raise your awareness by taking the time to authentically consider your standard strategies and tactics to get things done.
III. Use the lists to schedule the coming week. Sometimes stuff doesn't happen because it isn't top-of-mind. Each of the 'ingredients' to assemble for the process are very straight forward to create. Weekly review will help you with recall. Having a clear view of all the 'moving parts' together can help you to sort, prioritize and schedule. There really are only 168 hours in a week ... but also consider that there are a lot more where those came from, and choose wisely what you attempt to do! You don't HAVE TO get it all done, and you probably can't.
Rinse and Repeat. Weekly.
It might be choppy at first, and perhaps even upsetting to see all that didn't get done. Or how you avoided it, or how much of life is an 'unexpected circumstance'. But as Charles Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit" wrote about - this is one of the KEYSTONE habits that can lead to more and more upgrades to your organization skills. Try it out for a few weeks and let me know how it goes!