I am sure you’ve wondered at times how you can keep up as your volume of work increases. It can be stressful as your quantity of e-mails, phone calls, paperwork and meetings grows larger and larger.
And increasingly, these days we are measured by the results we deliver, and not the time we’ve spent delivering them.
What does busy actually mean? According to Webster dictionary, busy can mean “engaged in action”; it is also defined as “full of distracting detail”.
In today’s world of competing demands, we need to be productive, not just busy. Do fewer things well, and you are on the way to being less busy and much more effective and productive. Yet we are reluctant to examine this urge to be busy.
Tips for Becoming Less Busy and More Productive
Delegate those things you do which can be measured in units of time, or tasks which fall outside of your area of strengths. This leaves you more time for planning and innovative thinking; for what Steven Covey calls Right Quadrant Thinking. This is important at all levels and in all sizes of business. Being busy at any level is just too distracting.
2. Create Your Own Work Pattern
Understand when you are at your most productive, reflective and sociable or communicative. Plan and design your day around your way of thinking, biorhythms and personal needs.
Create your own daily framework that will support you and your needs. Planning is key; prior planning prevents piss poor performance.
3. Have a “Stop Doing” List
Challenge any tendency to workaholism, as Jim Collins suggests in Good to Great (Harper Collins 2001) by having a daily Stop Doing list. Saying “I am too busy” often hides a multitude of non-positive behaviours like workaholism, avoiding reflection, trying to impress the boss, ostrich mentality, fear of letting go, being a control freak. Fred Gratzon, author of The Lazy Way to Success, goes one step further. He advocates doing less to achieve more.
Think of the one thing you could stop doing today that would have a positive impact on your time management, health and quality of life? You know it makes sense; it is not procrastinating as you have set your stall it’s part of a greater plan.
4. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Every business can benefit from implementing lean principles. Often small changes can deliver huge results. A simple place to start is to examine any problems, bottlenecks in your service provision, production, targets or objectives. The first step of defining the problem can have enormous positive psychological benefits when you are busy and stressed.
5. Focus on your Strengths
Your strengths form your most effective path to the productive expenditure of time and energy. Unfortunately, most of us have been asked to do a SWOT analysis and then spend too much of our time eliminating our weaknesses instead of focusing on our strengths.
Whereas in reality more successful businesses have realised that discovering and then focus using these strategies won’t guarantee that every day is 100% productive, but at least you’ll have more nights when you can smile as your head hits the pillow knowing you made real progress on what’s most important to you. Focusing on one’s strengths is more satisfying, more enjoyable and more effective.