There has been a rash of articles lately about how people are taking pride in how busy they are. Take this article from Slate, for example, that states you’re not as busy as you say you are. Even if you really are as busy as you say you are, there are probably ways to spend and allocate your time a little more efficiently. Today, our tips offer some ideas on how to handle that busy-ness so you can get down to business.
1. It’s all about the lists
Towards the end of the day, or even after work while you are sipping your post-work drink of choice (no judgments here), take a moment to run down what you need to do for the next day. Over the weekend, make a more broad list for the week. These lists don’t have to be set in stone, but it is a great way to ease worry about anything slipping through the cracks. Making a list can also help you see at a glance how much you need to get done so that you can most effectively allocate your time. Besides that, crossing things off a to-do list is a perpetual source of satisfaction!
2. Know your own work patterns
Recently we talked about the fact that a lot of people have points in the day when their creativity is at the highest. Understanding your own work habits can help you attack your to-do list in the most effective way possible. For example, if you have a lot of writing to do and you know that you tend to do your best writing in the morning, try to arrange your day so that you work on your writing tasks first thing. This can’t always be done perfectly, of course, but it is something to shoot for.
3. Don’t try to game the deadlines
Sometimes people try to allocate time based on the tasks they want to get done versus the actual deadlines for when things are due. They figure that most deadlines are movable so it does not really matter if they miss one here or there. This is a great way to end up increasingly far behind, which can then feed the feeling of busyness. Hit your deadlines first, and then while you are waiting for feedback intersperse other projects.
4. Quantity of hours does not necessarily equate to quality of work
A lot of people try to simply work themselves to the bone to get their lists taken care of. Whether that means coming in at 5 AM or leaving work at 8 PM, the bottom line is that often times, working while you are exhausted simply results in a lower quality of work. Sometimes you might even make mistakes that will create more work for you later on. As challenging as it can be, make sure you know how to turn the action button off when you need to. Counter-intuitively, stopping your work can save you time, ultimately.
5. Don’t be afraid to delegate
The biggest problem I encounter in the business world is a failure to delegate. Allocating time does not just mean your own. It also means noting when someone may be able to help you out. I am not sure exactly why so many people are seemingly scared stiff of delegating. Perhaps they feel that it will make them look less valuable, or perhaps they simply are type-A personalities who like to do everything their own ways. Whatever the reason, a failure to delegate feeds the “busyness” culture that Slate was talking about. Don’t be afraid to pass off tasks or even projects when you can. You will still have plenty to do, but you’ll be able to do what’s left more efficiently and effectively.
How do you work on allocating time? Do you find yourself bragging about how busy you are, or do you simply put your nose to the grindstone and concentrate on getting the work done? What works best for you?
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