I’ve spent years checking things compulsively. When I was in school, I checked all my pockets, my chair, my bag making sure all my stuff were in their proper places. I checked dirt at the back of my pants every time I stand up. At home, I checked my teeth each time I see a mirror, I checked the LPG if it’s closed. My parents were observing me and asked me what I’d been doing.
When I touch things using my right hand, I usually touch it again using my left hand. I clapped my hands compulsively, tapped my stomach, stretched my neck, had facial tics, looked at the bottom of my plate before I eat. Up to this moment, I’ve been having random compulsive behaviors like checking my calendar, task list, email or text when I knew that I just checked them.
It’s evident, that the reason why I do these behaviors since I was a kid is that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Checking things have been wasting my time and making me more anxious most of the time. Since I became aware of the disorder and these mannerisms, I researched things on how to eliminate them. I learned self-hypnosis, meditation, Buddhism doctrines, cognitive therapy and I even underwent psychotherapy.
I have grown accustomed to this, but lately, I’ve been realizing the benefits of having these kinds of compulsions.
When I graduated in high school, I dreamed to have my own business. Fortunately, I got in the software business a year after my first employment when I realized I wasn’t happy being employed. My anxiety grew exponentially when I faced a lot of adversity in my startup years. I was clinically diagnosed as depressed and started to take anti-depressants a few years back.
I made the business grow single-handedly after a decade and managed the company and projects all by myself. I studied finance and accounting including tax management. I made product presentations while I spearheaded project implementation alone and had been managing operations without any top-level or mid-level managers. My travel time between meetings was spent by replying to emails, text and answering calls.
Eventually, I found good people who helped the company grow further and made the company the software organization that we are now.
After years of hating compulsive checking, I had this great sense of relief that after all, OCD was a big part of my success. Worrying and checking things that I do since the time I was in software programming (making sure that I don’t miss any features that the clients wanted and making sure I am following design standards) up to doing my role as a project manager, sales and finance were the traits that are very important in entrepreneurship and management world.
Meantime, I’d like to share some of the creative ways I did to organize and manage tasks especially if you lead a team and work on multiple projects simultaneously. The key here is focus and concentration and not “really” doing it simultaneously.
1. Run tasks on themed-days. It’s important to assign tasks to do on certain days, making it “themed.” My Mondays are Sales & Marketing in the morning, then Operations in the afternoon. I lay out plans/activities for each department for the entire week. Tuesdays are R&D. Wednesdays and Thursdays are sales calls. Fridays are Finance, Admin & HR.
2. Plan at night. I do this usually after dinner or before bedtime. I use a traditional notebook and write down my itinerary for the following day. I cross each task out as I accomplish them on the day itself.
3. Set certain times to check messages. I do this early in the morning, then just before lunch break and right after doing my tasks by end of the day. Turning on your notifications and reading and replying each time will give you a lot of stress and will take your focus away on the tasks at hand.
4. Time blocking. I usually block my time like a 30min. standup meetings with the team lead for a quick check-in or fix roadblocks. Another example is, I use a separate phone when I wake up and do my morning routines. Because if I pick up my work phone at the beginning of the day, I’ll be bombarded with notifications and I won’t be able to do my morning rituals such as meditation, workout, reading, and writing.
These methods have helped me collect myself, calmed me at times when I need to concentrate, and most of all, made me feel that I am in control and on top of things. It gives me a clear mind to think, to handle tasks the best I could, and to get a better perspective on things. Try these for a week and see how it would help you function throughout the day. If you’ve got tips on how to better manage tasks, share it by commenting below. It surely will be useful for all of us.