A new client recently explained to me how he was at a stage where he wasn’t sleeping well, his lack of focus was affecting his work and with so many things that all needed to be done, seemingly at the same time, that he was at his wit’s end.
Now with the best will in the world, there are only 24 hours in the day and if you have 26 hours’ worth of tasks, physics simply states that “it ain’t gonna fit!” So how did we go about dealing with this situation? How was he able to regain a peaceful night’s sleep, becoming the less irritable and more pleasant guy that colleagues and family had missed?
Everyone will have their own criteria or needs, no two people will be the same and although there were specific requirements for the aforementioned, there are certain things that we can all adopt to help us gain some clarity. The simplest of all is to Prioritise your workload.
- Get it written down – Our thoughts are all vying for the #1 slot. It’s tricky to ascertain which is more important than others when there are so many. First thing to do is get them out of your head and written down.
- Time-frame – Now they are out, give each task a simple recognisable title and write a realistic amount of time you envisage spending on it.
- Urgent vs Important – What needs the immediate attention? What has a deadline that has to be met (eg Applying for a job that has a closed deadline). What will have a seriously negative outcome if not met?
- Scheduled To-Do – Go back to #2 and plan your day(s) according to the amount of time each will take. Write a START time and END time and block this out in your diary. Remember to add time between tasks for all those inevitable unexpected things!
- Log – Regardless if a new task or a repetitive one, we can so easily assume they should take less time than expected so don’t ‘assume’, know and log the amount of time you ‘actually’ spend on each to help you plan for future similar tasks.
- Order of effort – Look at the tasks that will take you the most effort. Deal with these when you are most productive. If you’re an early morning person, crack on with it then but if you don’t get into your flow until later in the day, take on board the smaller jobs and clear the decks of them.
- Manage distractions – know what your distractions are and manage them. I’ve found that one of the biggest is Messenger and/or Emails. TURN THEM OFF!!! Unless you are a business that relies entirely from email orders, you don’t need them. Be brave! Difficult though it may appear, turn them off and only visit them at ‘scheduled’ If it is urgent, people will soon learn you don’t immediately respond unless they call you.
- Multi-tasking – It’s a lie! Yep, multi-tasking isn’t time saving, it’s time draining. You start numerous jobs and keep going back to them spending time familiarising yourself with them. Start a job, give it your undivided attention and as far as you can go with it, complete and then move to the next. Refrain from jumping from one to another. From your To-Do list, you’ll have plenty of jobs but you’ll do them more efficiently by concentrating on them one at a time… trust me, it works!
- Cut it out! – Literally, cut tasks out if they don’t fit into the priority listing. Delegate what you can and what’s left, leave to one side and concentrate on the priorities you know are critical to the business and/or you. You can’t do everything so if there are areas to be sacrificed, this way you can be honest with yourself as to what are the least important.
- Review – Check your task list and see what can be delegated. Trust others to do it. If, as a sole trader or entrepreneur, you have to manage many aspects of the business, ie admin, then set a time (we refer to this as a ‘default diary’ entry, same time every day, week, fortnight etc depending on required frequency) and then don’t add this to the worry pile as it has its allocated slot. Also, keep assessing the priorities as later, those tasks that initially appeared high on the list may not necessarily be that important so keep revising.
Well there are ten areas to help start the process. An author who I totally admired was Stephen Covey and he once quoted “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”. A great mantra to take on board.
Coaching to success understand the headaches that a busy career or life can bring and we have the expertise, much as the client mentioned earlier, to help you through those harrowing times. To help you set clear parameters and offer the motivation to see you through to the end with positive and profitable outcomes.
Take the first step to gaining this clarity and contact Neil on 07761 187238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org who, with tools and techniques, can assure you of a smoother, quicker transition from despondency to joyful completion.
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