By Sherridan Hughes, Career Consultant
Learning to manage time and workload are effective factors in controlling stress, which in itself can impact productivity and performance. Too little work can be as stressful as too much leading to negative thoughts and responses.
Time pressures time Vs. Emotion or stress response
Having insufficient time Vs Panic
Wasted time Vs Guilt and annoyance
Interrupted time Vs Frustration and impatience
Giving insufficient time Vs Worry
Not being on time Vs Anxiety
Too much time on hands Vs Boredom
Planning reduces stress, but remember that the best plans are flexible and may be changed, and a plan is only as good as the person using it.
Analyse your use of time:
1a) On what do you spend most of your time?
b) Should this be your core activity?
2a) How much time are you devoting to your primary responsibilities?
b) Is this proportionally correct? If not, what might you do about it?
3a) How much time are you devoting to your secondary activities?
b) Is this proportionally correct? If not, how might this be remedied?
4a) How much time are you devoting to activities outside of your job specification?
b) How might these be eliminated?
5a) What proportion of your day is unplanned?
b) Could such work be planned?
6a) What proportion of your day is devoted to planned uninterrupted time?
b) Is this appropriate? If not, what can be done?
7) Do you spend a disproportionate amount of time moving between venues? How could logistics be improved?
8) If movement is unplanned, how could it be planned?
9) Is productivity affected by location? How might you make maximum use of most productive places?
10) How much time is spent fetching tea/coffee, smoking, or in the toilet? Is this a reasonable proportion of the day?
11) Which activities are taking too long? Are you being overly perfect?
12) Which activities might be delegated, and where might others assist?
13) At which times of the day are you at your most productive?
How might you ensure that you undertake most demanding tasks at most productive times?
1. What do you do that is urgent?
2. When could you do these things to make best use of your time?
3. What should you do which is important?
4. When could these be done to make the most of your time?
5. What do you need to stop doing?
6. How will you ensure that people and events do not steal the time you have allotted for important t asks?
7. What help might you need to achieve this? How will this be attained?
Reduce pressure by:
- Applying the Pareto Principle to your tasks: 20 per cent of the tasks will generate 80 per cent of results. Identify those tasks and make them priority.
- Distinguishing between urgent tasks (crisis, unplanned, demands) and important tasks (achieve your prime objectives, give you maximum return for effort).
- Being selective. Not all tasks need ‘polishing’.
- Planning uninterrupted time. Divert your phone. Make it known that you are unavailable.
- Saying ‘no’ to urgent requests, interruptions and unreasonable demands.
- Planning to do the most demanding task when you are at your peak.
- Setting realistic deadlines for tasks and sticking to them. When necessary, renegotiate deadlines as soon as possible.
- Working together. If you have the authority, delegate. Alternatively, think about asking others for help. Who would do your job if you were away?
Try the WHY, WHY Technique
Whether the problem is underload or overload, why is this an issue at all? What is the real problem? To avoid providing excuses as opposed to reasons, use the ‘Why, Why’ Technique. This involves asking ‘Why?’ repeatedly until you reach the real problem.
I am in work overload.
Why? Because I have too much to do.
Why? Because I never have a chance to finish anything these days.
Why? Because people keep interrupting me.
Why? Because they need advice.
Why? Because I am the one who delegates work to them.
So, if you were to improve your delegation skills, the problem would be solved?
Once the real problem has been identified, effective solutions can be found, and pressure might then be reduced.
1. Identify the real problem. Search for the reasons, not excuses. Write down the real problem.
2. How would greater assertiveness help?
3. What could be done to balance the tasks?
4. How could deadlines be employed to balance workload?
5. How could teamwork help?
6. How could talk help to balance workload?
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