Ask Chloé: Improving Productivity as an InfoSec IC

Welcome to the Ask Chloé column on Security Boulevard! Each week, Chloé provides answers to readers’ questions to help guide them as they navigate the technology industry. This week, Chloé helps a cybersecurity pro to better organize their time and become more productive.

 

Dear Chloé,

I’ve been trying to become more organized and feeling like I have more control of my day. Ever since I’ve joined cybersecurity, it feels like I don’t have control of my day-to-day. Hoping you have some recommendations for having a daily routine during the workdays.

—Owning days

Dear Owning days,

I absolutely love this question! I’ve also experienced the feeling of lacking control over my days in the past, because our industry works around the clock and there are endless amounts of projects and tasks! So here’s how I structure my days; perhaps it can help you too.

When I first wake up, I don’t look at any device. I deliberately wake up pretty early and dedicate one hour each day to self-care. For me, this hour includes journal writing, a quick yoga routine, having tea and reading. This one hour allows me to set my intentions for the day. After an hour, I check the news, social media and emails.

After I catch up, I look at my desk to remind me what is happening that day. On my desk, I have two planners: one weekly and the other daily. My weekly planner contains important things and events that will occur throughout the week. It is updated throughout the week. My daily planner has my entire day written down and planned out. I write down all appointments the day before and add items throughout the day if needed. It allows me to have a better idea of what my day includes and what I need to prioritize throughout the week. And yes, I do use the calendar features on my devices, as well; it helps me digest better when it’s written down, too! I’ll also block out an hour or two if I need to commit to 100% focus on any projects—usually in the afternoon, since the morning is booked for calls and team meetings.

Throughout the day, I keep my workspace clutter-free. I am a minimalist and a natural organizer. In other words, my surroundings have to allow me to feel calm and to breathe. It helps me think creatively and remain focused, as well, because I’m not distracted by any sort of clutter around me.

Besides planning and starting the day with self-care, I try my best to get proper sleep by having a bedtime routine. I start by turning off or placing all my devices in Do Not Disturb mode by 10:00 p.m. and then I begin getting ready for bed. When I get in bed, I journal. This helps me mentally wrap up the day—since I started the day by writing in my journal I then end it by writing in my journal. If I struggle to fall asleep, I may meditate in bed, read a book or take melatonin.

In the past, I used to deal with Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, which is when you delay your bedtime as a way to cope with stress and feel like you are in more control of your personal time when you work all hours. It’s a terrible habit and leads to burnout so much quicker. This is why having a bedtime and morning routine commitment helps me a lot.

Overall, to feel like you are more in control of your day, I strongly recommend dedicating time daily for yourself and that you become more proactive in planning your days and weeks ahead of time (but with flexibility). By waking up earlier and going to bed earlier, it allows you to have more control of your days and reduces stress. Lastly, if you are not a journal-writing person or you don’t want to journal for more than five minutes a day, I highly recommend getting “The Five Minute Journal” by Intelligent Change or “Keel’s Simple Diary”. Both are great to use to ensure you commit to journal writing. I find journaling to be one of the best ways to empty the mind and become more productive and organized.

Learn more about the award-winning tech changemaker, Chloé Messdaghi, at https://www.chloemessdaghi.com

Have a question? Want advice? Submit your anonymous question to Chloé: [email protected].

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