Feel You Always Have Too Much To Do?
Are you tired of sleepless nights, unproductive feelings of stress and anxiety, relationships constantly under duress, and not being yourself at the top of your game?
One of my earlier BLOGS pointed to the Tyranny of the Urgent and the importance of setting priorities in order to be happy, productive, and successful.
Why is it we have time to do things over, but not time to do them right the first time?
THE KEY IS BALANCE.
Most of us are overwhelmed with too much to do. Our days are filled with a never-ending avalanche that buries us under a mountain of activities and unfinished business. It’s important to accept this is a life we choose to live.
We may consider and even attempt to be more responsible about how we use our time, but we keep falling short. The question we need to resolve is, “Do we want to prevent being overwhelmed or do we want to continue to try to keep up?”
First, consider each of us has our technical area of competence. Set your foolish pride aside and accept you need the help of others. By trying to be in control of everything, you essentially control nothing. Paradoxically, by giving up control, you gain flow and wisdom that comes from support and peace. You simply need to learn to trust others who have proven themselves to be trustworthy.
Having the ability to get things done through others can be difficult but is critical to our success.
Raise your hand if you have ever been to a training session on how to get things done through other people. Most of us are lacking in our soft skills training and experience especially effective communications or critical thinking.
My personal experience came through the school of hard knocks. My last sales management job required me to get things accomplished through three or four layers of responsibility and roles with over 100 people spread out over a five state area.
As sales manager, my role was to ‘herd the cats’. Effective use of time was critical to our success.
Much of what worked well for me then is timeless and will also help you put at least 3-5 hours per week back into your schedule. Not to mention you will spend less time doing things over and get things done faster and better.
Before we begin to tackle steps to make your life more manageable, it’s important to understand the difference between symptoms or those habits we want to change versus the real root cause of the problem.
Most of us don’t think of managing our time as a having a system of time management. Key is to create a satisfying system. The system that works for me includes these components:
Step # 1 – UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS GET DONE
We tend to react to what comes across our radar screen. Divide your tasks into urgent and important activities. Urgent activities are often a distraction that gains our attention like the proverbial ‘squeaky wheel.’ If your urgent activity is not important I suggest you put it lower on your list of things to do. Important activities have to be prioritized with time set aside to plan and organize them. The more complex the task, the following provides a necessary sense of orderliness:
- Planning – Discovering, diagnosing, and prescribing
- Organizing – Defining action steps, and accountability
- Prioritizing – Assigning target dates
- Completing – Modifying and finishing
Step # 2 – CRYSTALLIZE THE WORK TO BE DONE
One of the most important skills critical to my success was my ability to be a good communicator mostly through one-on-one meetings:
- Be clear. Most of the time we communicate with ‘fat words’ that are unclear and vague. Use ‘lean words’ to communicate in clear terms what’s expected. For example, rather than say, “Your performance needs to improve” you would say. “By getting to work promptly your performance will be significantly improved.”
- Communicate the purpose of the meeting. Do a sanity check to see if everyone is on the same page at the beginning.
- When you communicate, start with the end in mind. Define what a good outcome might look like. We typically start at the beginning and by the time we get around to the end, we have not necessarily stayed on track to achieve that end.
- Ask whether or not your message was received. Have people tell you what their takeaways were from the communications.
Step # 3 – FOLLOW SIMPLE RULES
about meetings to insure progress and avoid do-overs:
- Discernment is an important skill. Does common sense dictate the meeting is necessary? If so, how well does it need to be done?
- Be prepared. Plan in advance. What resources will you need? Will you have the people in the room that can make a decision?
- Stay on topic. Restate the clear purpose/desired outcome. Write agreed upon steps down. Put topics not critical in the parking lot for future consideration.
- Set clear expectations for results. Follow up in writing. What actions steps were decided upon, who will be responsible, and when will the work be completed?
I would love to have a dollar bill for every minute I wasted sponsoring or attending unproductive meetings. I’d be a millionaire.
We all spend time in meetings (more than likely, a lot more time than we would like). We typically find meetings boring, frustrating and a waste of time.
Now you can take responsibility for the quality of meetings you manage by simply changing a few habits. Make your meetings more productive instead of making your life more hectic than it already is.
To learn the 10 Steps to Building Good Habits For Success:
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