When my two girls are busy spreading toys all over the family room floor I always tell them they need to leave me a flight path to the door. They can put stuff wherever they like, but there must be a clear path to the back door so I can get there without falling over, or stepping on, toys. They know this, but they need regular, gentle reminders.
This morning I’ve been thinking about flight paths in a different way. I’ve been thinking about them as a productivity tool. Bear with me here, and I’ll explain.
I often find myself distracted. Despite my best attempts to stay focused, I stray off track. And before I know it I’m frustrated that I haven’t achieved anything, despite being busy all day.
I go to get the vacuum cleaner out, and then someone asks me for a drink of water or a snack. So, I go to the fridge, and organise the drink or snack. Then, where was I? Oh, yes, the vacuum. I head to the cupboard in the corridor, but then I spy the laundry so I stop by to throw some things into the machine and set that going. Then I hear the girls yelling, so I go and mediate. And tell them that no, they cannot watch TV. Then I pick up some toys they’ve discarded and take them to their bedrooms to put them away. Along the way I pass the cupboard with the vacuum cleaner, that I still have not pulled out to use … Does this sound at all familiar?
This morning I had limited time before I spoke to a client. I had an hour to shower, dress, eat breakfast, find some clothes for the girls, and get their breakfast, before calling my client for her appointment. It was achievable, but I couldn’t afford to get distracted.
So I found myself thinking about my flight path, and staying on track for take-off. Each time a possible distraction reared up, I thought, “No, that’s not on my path right now. It will have to wait.”
I realised that having a clear flight path really helps to keep me focused. I know where I’m going, and I know the path to get there. I can get stuff done. Sometimes my flight path covers an hour of the day, like this morning, but sometimes it’s longer.
There are days when I think about the few key things that I need to achieve during the morning, or over the day. When I start getting distracted, I keep those key things in mind and I remember my flight path.
Some days I don’t think about what I’m doing, I just go with the flow. Some days I write down my flight path, and some days I don’t. But on the days where I really want, or need, to get things done I find it really helps.
Give it a try. Maybe it can help you, too.
Short bio: I’m Cate Scolnik, and I’m a sociologist and life coach who supports busy, working parents. I help mums to make their lives easier, and to build family units that thrive.
Qualifications and further background: I hold a bachelor of arts in sociology, am a member of the Australian Institute of Project Managers, I’m a counsellor and a life coach. I’m also a wife, and mother to two boisterous girls.