Archive: Time for you — from the Career Opportunities Podcast
A crazy workday is familiar to all of us. We are busy from the moment we arrive to the moment we leave…and even after we leave, in some cases. Our lives are driven by one urgent project after another. While we may be busy in this environment, too often we are not very productive. Without some time for ourselves, to re-group, analyze and plan, all of our busyness can come to mean very little. To break free from the constant interruptions of your event driven work, you need to take time for yourself, morning, noon and night.
Now, of course, I am not suggesting you ignore work that needs to be done. Only that you carve out 5, 10, maybe 15 minutes a day to insure that you are working on something that is important and not just urgent.
Everyone needs some time in the morning to think about work. Maybe some task wasn’t finished yesterday and needs to be completed today. Perhaps your schedule called for the start of a big project today. Whatever the case, taking a few minutes over breakfast, during your commute or alone in your office with the first cup of coffee for the day, can mean the difference between a productive day and one filled with craziness. What tasks will you complete today? Which will have to be postponed? Which have already been solved? What work will you be able to fit within your allotted hours and staff?
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this, but you should do it every morning. Even better, I highly recommend holding a 5-minute, standing room only, team meeting at the start of each day. This recommendation comes from Patrick M. Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting. Taking just 5 minutes, before everyone scatters for the day can help to keep everyone connected and working towards the same goals. It can also show you where your efforts might be better directed.
Mid-day is a time to re-cap and re-evaluate. Is it taking longer than planned to install that router? Are you missing software or hardware for a specific project? If you can’t complete the project today, what can you do instead? Before you head out for lunch, take a moment to review your morning and plan your afternoon. If your day is like mine, you will have emergencies crop up throughout the course of the morning that must be handled. Instead of bringing a project to a halt, though, maybe you could have another staffer take care of the emergency while others keep the project moving forward. Is the problem really an emergency or can it be added to the work queue and handled tomorrow? If you can give someone a temporary work-around, you can often gain enough time to complete your project instead of bringing it to a halt while you solve the problem.
Before you go home each evening, make note of your 5 most pressing issues for the next day…then forget about them. Truth is, your subconscious mind will continue working on them while you have dinner, play with the kids and watch TV. You may find that new solutions will present themselves the next morning when you start the process all over again. It will also make your morning review that much quicker and more effective. Sure, you will have other issues that need to be fit into your schedule, but you will start each day with a clear idea of where to begin.
Taking time for you is an important aspect of every single day. Without it, you will struggle to balance all the competing demands for your time and energy and flit from one job to the next. As you move though your day, if you notice that you haven’t had time to think or plan, stop immediately and take that time. Go have a coffee. Step outside for a few minutes. Shut your office door, if you have one. The productivity and effectiveness you gain will far outweigh the time spent. You will begin driving your work, from moment to moment and day to day, instead of letting it drive you. This is just one way in which you can build a more effective and more satisfying career.