If the only thing your work is giving you is overwhelm, maybe this system of daily habits will help.
You might even do one, or more of them already, but practice them as a sequence and calm your work demons forever.
So, let’s start at the beginning.
1. Turn off email alerts
Although email is probably an extremely important part of your work, it can also be one of the biggest issues if it’s not managed properly.
You should be setting a block of time to check email. Only you know when and for how long this block should be. Whatever it is for you, set it and stick to it.
You’ll get a lot more done if you’re not checking and replying to emails every time a notification pops up.
2. Remove distractions
Turn off your notifications!
Also, I know it’s tempting to check Facebook, or grab a few minutes to look at your Twitter feed, but don’t! Unless, of course you’re a social media officer/manager 🙂
And, if you use social media as part of your business, then again, set a time to check and respond to any enquiries.
If possible, give the people you work with, a pre-determined time block to speak to you, or let them now what times you’ll be available.
3. Stop multitasking
Scientific research from Stanford University, tells us that there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. It’s true that some people can switch between multiple task very quickly, but you can’t competently complete two things at the same time.
So instead, decide on the most urgent and important task, then focus all your attention on that one thing first. Once that’s done, completely focus on the next task.
4. Decline additional commitments
There are times, we all say yes to things, even when we’re snowed under with our own crap. Please, STOP IT!
I know. It feels good to help someone out, and if you can schedule that help for a time that doesn’t impede your workload, fine. But, do it at a time that’s convenient for you.
You only need a couple of “can I borrow you for just a minute?” interruptions, to put your whole system in peril.
5. Get a routine
You can use this list if you like, but whatever you decide works best for you, stick to it.
Plan your day the best you can, then do your best to stick to the plan. There’ll always be things that go wrong, and some days the plan might not work at all, but it’ll be a big help on the days it does work.
6. Break down big projects
Stress and overwhelm often come because we tend to look at things as a whole. Wherever you can, break these big projects down into individual tasks.
Let’s say you have to find 50 new clients per year.
That’s one new client per week. If history tells you that you need to meet 10 clients to sign up one, that’s just two meetings per day.
If you have to call ten people, before one of them says yes to a meeting, that’s 20 calls per day. If each call lasts five minutes, that’s 100 minutes from your day, leaving you over six hours each day for your meetings.
7. Prioritise tasks
Use the Eisenhower Matrix.
This principle gives you a strategy for performing tasks in an effective sequence and for deciding which tasks you could delegate, and which ones you shouldn’t be doing at all.
- Tasks that are Urgent and Important
- Tasks that are Important, but not Urgent
- Tasks that are Urgent, but are not Important, and
- Tasks that are neither Urgent, nor Important.
Once you understand the principle, take your tasks for the day and assign them one of these categories. Then start with your Urgent and Important tasks.
8. Focus only on what matters
Once you’ve got your list of tasks for the day, don’t spend time worrying about the stuff you might not get done. If you use Eisenhower’s matrix properly, before long you’ll be almost always working in the ‘Important, but not Urgent’ sector. So the items that might get missed will not be important anyway.
9. Delegate tasks
This also carries on from Eisenhower’s matrix. Try wherever possible to delegate tasks, where there’s someone else available who can either do it quicker, or better. Also delegate any tasks that are urgent, but not important to your current project.
10. Set deadlines
Finally, set yourself a deadline and stick to it. If a particular project needs to be finished in three weeks, set yourself a deadline of two weeks. Work the project through Eisenhower’s matrix, then get to work.
If anything goes wrong, you still have a week to play with. If you leave starting it until a week before it’s due, you’re asking for trouble.
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