One thing at once

In general, people — myself included! — overestimate how much we’re able to get done in a day. Most people can perform at the super intensity it requires to produce extraordinary work that people pay attention to and pay for between two and four hours.

And if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, here’s what happens: You overcommit, realize you’re in over your head after the fact and then panic and/or beat yourself up for overcommitting and finding yourself in over your head.

What I’ve discovered is about how I used to plan is this: I only account for what I think I have control over. But there are forces at play that aren’t in my control. And that reality should be considered when I’m planning my productivity.

You’ve probably heard the maxim “underpromise, overdeliver” before. Usually, it’s regarded as a service strategy — a way to exceed someone else’s expectations.

But I apply those same words to my very own performance in my business. After all, why can’t I exceed my own expectations even if I’m the one who set them?

Instead of focusing on trying to get it all done at once, I’ve learned to devote my mornings to one creative project each day. I have a fixed deadline at 1 PM each afternoon, so whatever I’m working on that day — whether it’s creating my newsletter, designing a lesson for an upcoming training, or working on a client project — is due by then.

If I’m in a groove, I’ll bump the work for the next day to the current day. If not, no biggie: I completed the task at hand and can move on to ordinary tasks like emails, expenses and catching up on the news of the day without the judgment and beat-up.