ImageYou know how some days things start off fairly slowly as you think to yourself that you’ve got plenty of time to get everything you need to do finished? So you take your time over the first few tasks, taking the rare opportunity to really consider the best way to approach each activity, mulling it over in your head, perhaps typing and trashing a few abortive email attempts while you wait for the ideal approach and order to present itself to you.

Slowly, but hopefully surely, things start to resolve themselves and make it clear to you what order they need to be tackled in, and the best way to do so. And you realise that actually there’s a bit more to it than you first realised this morning. So you speed up a bit, getting on a roll now as each completed task starts to signpost automatically to the next, and you see your route to the end of the day mapped out for you, and you start to think “ok, I’ll just about get all this done, just as long as I keep cracking along at this pace”.

And then, something comes up. A request from your manager for something you hadn’t quite intended to do today, an unanticipated meeting, an agreement you thought you had made with somebody turned out to not have been understood quite the same way by them… or perhaps all of the above!

So you re-evaluate, re-prioritise, and speed up still further, working furiously on numerous tasks at the same time now. Glancing up at the clock with increasing trepidation at the impending end of the working day because, of course, this always happens on a day when you have a deadline by which you must leave the office, and never on a day when you are flexible about your clocking off time!

So you are now thinking to yourself “why didn’t I go just that bit faster this morning? I’d have it all finished by now!”, but I think you should give yourself a break. I find that some of that slower, thinking time is absolutely crucial to the process. It might not feel like you’re at your most productive, but if you hadn’t given yourself that space at the outset, you might not have hit upon the realisation of the best approach and order to the seemingly random group of tasks you embarked upon first thing. You might have been working hammer and tongs on them all day, without necessarily spotting the interdependencies between them and the best path to forge through them – missing vital information and causing duplication of effort.

So I say don’t be afraid to allow yourself to work at a calmer pace at times, giving yourself the time and brain space to consider the bigger picture. It might just work out more efficient in the long run.

So anyway, you know those days? I had one of them today. Phew!