I’d like to start with a confession – I’m not a naturally organised person. In the past I’ve been guilty of not planning ahead effectively, not putting in contingency plans for when things don’t go as expected and, frankly, pretty terrible at prioritising.
Since starting a business in 2011 though, and faced with no choice but to be organised I have to say I have upped my game somewhat.
I realise I’m still a way off what most people would called an organised person but I’m continually making improvements, learning new time management strategies and doing my best to get to that point of being referred to as, gulp, “organised”.
Now, whilst starting and running this business has caused me to hone my time management skills, the day to day tasks that I find myself being faced with often mean I’m pulled from pillar to post and still find that, with all the best will in the world, my plans do, still occasionally go awry.
Recently though I’ve got much better at sticking to what I’ve intended to do – plan my day before I start work in the morning and, unless a life or death matter rears it’s ugly head, stick to that plan until every task on it is finished.
To stick to the plan I have to politely, but firmly say no to people more often than I say yes. That goes against my natural instinct to want to help but, as long as I’ve determined that the tasks on my list are THE most important things I should be doing on that day, unless something else comes in that I deem to be more important, sorry but I cannot help, you’ll have to do it yourself.
By sticking to those tasks – and ignoring or delaying any interruptions, those tasks have my full attention – I’m not starting something then getting into a 20 min conversation with someone about a problem they need my help with – I’m starting, working through it – with accuracy – and finishing – often in less time than I’d planned for because I have no interruptions.
On paper this may look as if I’ve achieved less but 4 or 5 big, important tasks that get finished are far better than 20 or 30 half done jobs, most of which were helping other people ease their workload.
I’m not suggesting you stop being helpful but, overall, you’ve got to be helpful to yourself first and foremost.
- First identify the most important tasks that will help you get closer to your ultimate goal
- Draw up a plan – put times against the tasks so you have an idea exactly when you intend to start – and finish something
- Ensure everything on that plan is in order of importance – going back to ensuring the tasks on the plan help you to get closer to your expected goal
- Get them done – ignore emails, ignore colleagues, ignore other tasks that come in – if they can be ignored/put off
- Don’t multitask – better to get one job completed than do lots of jobs with a fraction of the effort
And that’s how I’m getting more done by doing less!
Inspired Business Development Ltd