Apr 20, 2018 | by Cindy Sullivan
While having a targeted and purposeful task list is a great launch point for a productive week, it’s important to think beyond the list. Below are some things you may have never considered when thinking about the topic of Time Management. Yet, how many of these may be impacting your ability to get things done??
- Communication. Poorly communicating, especially through email, can really slow down your own efficiency. Time spent waiting for responses, receiving only partial info needed, or needing to clarify multiple times can make us feel like others are in the driver’s seat of our own ability to get things done. While it’s true that we can’t ever fully control others, we can hone our own skills so that we are more clear and effective in the communications. (Check out next week’s blog for tips on how to do just that!)
- Fear. How many of our actions (or inactions) can be linked back to areas of insecurity? Are you spending WAY too much time on a task because you are worried about what someone else will think? Are you scared to take the first step until you have ALL the information in hand? Do you fear making a choice because there might be a better option that comes up later? Do you not take action because you’re afraid of what might happen next? Fear can prompt us to spend too much, too little, or even zero attention on something and it may be happening without you even being aware. Tip: As you look at your task list, pay attention to those areas that cause you pause, dread, or that you find yourself fixating on. There’s a clue there. Ask yourself “What am I afraid of?”
- Decision-making. Over-thinking and too much time spent gathering data can be a productivity killer! The key here is that time spent weighing and making decisions is proportionate to the level of importance around that decision. With so much information at our fingertips, it is easy to let a relatively small decision lead us down a path of hours spent on the internet researching options or gathering data. Likewise, taking short-cuts and making quick choices on significant decisions may mean mistakes, extra time spent to re-do work, and even lost opportunities. Tip: Approach decisions knowing the level of importance it has and determining how much information is truly needed to make a decision BEFORE you get started. You can even try setting a time limit or an amount of research you’ll do so you aren’t tempted to head down that slippery slope!
- Focus. Our task list may be fully manageable when we look at it on paper – only later to realize that we aren’t able to maintain focus long enough to accomplish the task or to keep ourselves from getting distracted and moving on to something else. Our connection with technology and the speed with which information flows at us doesn’t help. Building and maintaining focus is a skill that often isn’t practiced today so when we need to draw on it to be productive, we find ourselves lacking. I believe this is why we often rely on the adrenaline of working at the last minute on a deadline to get us motivated to “just do it”! Tip: Start small and build your focus time by limiting distractions (shut the door, move to a quiet location, shut off all technology not required for the task, etc.) and setting a timer for 10 minutes. Continue having these mini-focus sessions and gradually build to having longer sessions - - 15 minutes, then 20, then 25. A great technique is the Pomodoro technique which suggests you have a 25 minute focus session then take a 5 minute break, then begin another Pomodoro.
- Hurdles. There’s nothing that can hinder our productivity and momentum like being hit by an unforeseen problem or delay. But…..are they all really “unforeseen”? Sometimes we all have things that pop up to change our schedule or change our plan. However, often we CAN anticipate and address issues that may stop us in our tracks later if we simply invest time to look for the hurdles we might face. Tip: Ask yourself questions such as:
- Do I have everything I need to get started? Is there anything I need to learn or research before I can get started? Can I even FIND that paperwork I need to work on?
- Do I know the EXACT next step that needs to happen? When we give ourselves broad tasks we may realize that we’re not sure where to start once we sit down to get to work - - think that through first and identify the specific task that needs to be done next.
- What other people or outside resources are needed to move forward? Do I need to reach out to others and, if so, will they be available / ready when I am? Is a conversation with someone else needed before you can get started?
- Is there anything coming up in my schedule that will impact my ability to work on this, allot enough time, etc?
Cindy B Sullivan provides consulting, coaching, and training in the areas of Time Management and Productivity. Take her 6 Pillars of Effective Time Management assessment to find out where you can work to hone your time management skills. Free phone consultations are available. Email: cindy@cbSullivanConsulting.com or call 615-406-5436 today to schedule!