"I am so busy." I don’t think I have ever heard so many people say this. Ever. Yes, we all have busier times of the year – but this just seems relentless for so many people. And having a lack of time creates stress. And stress reduces our productive time. And so, it cascades. So here are some thoughts to help get out of the cycle. It won’t be easy. But it will be much easier if you do something to change things than if you don’t. #1 - forget time management
#2 - apply the Covey Model
#3 - help prioritise
#4 - make friends with your calendar
#5 - do this together
#6 - watch out for squirrels
Thought #1 – Forget Time Management You may look to ways to use your time better. But that won’t help. You will just find more tasks get thrown at you. Instead, focus on the cause of the problem which is too much to do. You need to challenge what you are doing. I recently read somewhere that an alarming 45% of work actions are on things that have no bearing on one’s goals. So, the thought here – get your goals right, be aligned on these and focus energy on these and forget the rest.
Thought #2 – Apply The Covey Model On the back of the last point, I thought I would share this model by Stephen Covey. See if you can assign your tasks into these quadrants. Anything in Quadrant 111 could be eliminated; anything in the 4th one definitely can.
Thought #3 – Help Prioritise That leads me onto the 3rd thought. For tasks that are assigned to you – or that you are assigning - think in terms of priorities and not time. Over the years, my team members have often said “I don’t have time for that Jeff”. Whilst correct, the response was a bit abrupt and not a solution. Instead, we would discuss together the priorities in a collaborative way and with a better outcome as the most important things get focused on – which could have been ignored due to time constraints.
Thought #4 - Make Friends With Your Calendar This is something I am not good at, but others are. My calendar usually only shows meetings, and a few keep free slots. What I and we should do is put our task-time into our calendar. This takes discipline and will annoy others trying to get access to your time through online calendar bookings. But, if you know it is going to take you two hours to write some content on Monday, or you need three hours to do some planning on Wednesday – add it to your calendar. It helps you and others. This also helps you see the bigger capacity picture.
Thought #5 – Do this together You may be tempted to take some of these thoughts on board. But make sure your colleagues do too. A lot of your woes with time will be caused by other’s poor time prioritisation – which means you get things last minute. So, if you follow these thought alone, it will not be as effective as your whole team replicating. Choose a thought to do together.
Thought #6- Watch out for squirrels
You may hear people tease others with the word “squirrel”, which means they have been distracted. There are so many things to distract us. Notifications on our phones. Social media Emails pounding the inbox. Our thoughts. Distractions side-track us from accomplishing our priorities and making decisions. And make us feel overwhelmed. Willpower is what you need. Or is it? Actually, willpower won’t help you. We are weak humans after all. Instead try structure. I was once told – “check your emails twice a day” which others thought was crazy; it worked. I was once advised to allocate at least an hour a day where team members could talk to me – it worked. I was also advised to spend an hour a day just walking the floor and talking – and it made a huge difference. Look at what distracts you and counter this with structure. Now choose one of these thoughts that will work for you and just do it. Jeff Knight FCIM