I am sure many of us have heard of, or even tried the Snowball effect in the realm of finances. The quick description is to take the smallest balances of debt and knock them out, take the monthly savings and apply it to the next debt. As you continue to pay these items down, your payments against the debt get larger and start making bigger impact until your payment snowball has rolled all the way down the hill.
The principle is the same overall for many other aspects of life honestly. The beauty of the snowball effect lies in the ability to just take a small task and complete it. It could be for something like home improvement, or working out, or for your job.
Lately I have been having conversations with many people, from all different companies and job roles. These discussions have showed me a few key things that are becoming universal. Job role ambiguity (which we will deep dive into in a different post) is no longer an exception, but a way to do business. Tasks need to get done, someone will raise their hand (or have it raised) and take on the responsibility.
When we run from task to task and are hitting wall after wall, it can have a negative effect not just on our work performance but mentally as well, leading us to lose energy quickly. But just like starting anything from the beginning, we should set ourselves up for success. I have personally found that a few different tips can change the pace of the day and keep it going, by the end of the day, though tired, you feel more accomplished and the bonus is, you get peace of mind.
Success Starts the Night Before
Have you found yourself at the end of the day asking, “what in the world did I do during my workday”? I know I was there, I was in meetings, I did all the email and collaboration stuff, but what did I actually do? What contributions did I make to move the needle?
One practice is to set up your must complete action items up the night before. Simply documenting those on a checklist, a Kanban application or physical board can get your mind in the right space. It sets up your expectations for what is important for the next day. As you knock those items out, you get that nice little rush of moving the task to the next column, checking that box, crossing out that list item. Whatever your process is, completing it will help build momentum. It also helps you feel more calm for the rest of your day and can bring calm at night. When I know that I have my next day set up to a degree, I feel much more relaxed. I have checked off the important items to complete, I have prepped my upcoming day, I can decompress for the truly needed down time.
The Value of Task Organization
Is peace of mind the only value to setting yourself up for success the next day? Absolutely not. Another key value of these documented actions actually goes well beyond just your own current role. Have you ever been asked by a boss or coworker, “how do you do what you do?”, “What are you working on today?” Or one of my personal favorites, “Why should we pay you more?”
One of the hardest things to do in a short time is to be able to express just how much value you bring to your day, to your current job role, or also to that potential next interview. By Organizing those tasks you will find the ability to show value beyond your job role, your efficiency and impact can be quantified. You also have your own records that can help you write the most concise story. Being able to get that raise because you can fully articulate your impact, or being able to show in an interview or pitch to a client the way you made a difference in your personal business or for your company will differentiate you greatly.
The Factor of Momentum
I actually adopted this Micro Win philosophy years ago when my personal life ended up going through some obstacles. I went into a pretty severe depression and just the smallest task seemed impossible. At one point, I was trying to clean up my room a bit. It wasn’t even that bad, but I found myself sitting on the floor, then fell asleep. I was completely overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning. I share that because during that time, just the thought of putting away laundry seemed like asking me to build a house.
Some advice I received was, tell your mind that anything you do during this time is a victory. I found myself getting to the point where I was counting anything as a victory. I am going to take deep breaths for a minute, or I threw a shirt in the laundry, in a chain of progress day over day, I ordered food, I ate food, I cooked my own food, I went for a walk, I started running. On and on. I used each very, very, seemingly small thing that I did as a way to build momentum. My mind began to perk up, the thought of cooking a meal became something I felt strong enough to do and not a cyclone of self doubt or terror (quality of cooking is another story but anyway). I have since adopted that between my work and personal life.
Mental Health and productivity are sort of like walking the edge of a razor. My work days are broken up by some of these tasks, on tough days, checklist items can be, break up the day with a walk, or today is a workout day. Being all in on productivity is impossible, and this is coming from a Productivity Addict. Down time was wasted time, and personal health was not as valuable to me as taking on new challenges. Times for me have changed and I feel much more fulfilled with my days when I make sure to take care of myself.
How Will You Start Your Snowball?
Build your own health into your Snowball effect, as mentioned in one of my other posts, take your lunch and check that off the list, you don’t have to eat per se, but take time for you.
In the midst of searching for a more rewarding (remote career) you could add items like, looked at 5 job roles, added metrics to my resume. On harder days, put tasks down that you attended meetings, that you wrote something, that you took deep breaths, that you smiled. Whatever you need to get that going is of value and will compound.
Thank you for reading, let’s all get where we want to be.
See You Around,