By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC
The busyness trap is easy to fall into.
When you are in the busyness trap, it can give you the illusion of getting a lot done when in fact you are accomplishing little.
From processing dozens of emails to running from one meeting to the next, you might become convinced you are doing the right things, even if the most important projects are waiting for you back at your desk.
Because you have little time to stop and reflect, you may not realize how your time is being spent.
Fortunately, there are strategic ways of coping with the busyness trap. Here are tips on how to avoid it.
- Set Your Priorities At The Beginning Of The Day
Before you start your day, spend some time prioritizing your to-do list or project list. Consider what tasks are most important.
Keep it simple. Set three goals for the day, and put your full focus and energy into reaching them.
Tasks that are most important are often not what are most urgent. Though urgent tasks may come with a looming deadline, they can wait until you have made progress with your top priorities. There will always be time for quick phone calls or emails when you keep first things first. It does not always work the other way around.
- Make A Commitment To Productivity Instead Of Efficiency
Are you trying to keep up appearances?
Some executives feel like they should be putting their full attention on their work, and feel guilty when they are not.
What is more important than appearing busy? Getting the right things done.
True productivity cannot be achieved without prolonged periods of focus on key projects.
If you find yourself counting how many emails you have responded to, how long you stayed at work last night, what you have sacrificed to help the company, or anything of the sort, it is time to re-think your approach to work.
- Turn Off Alerts & Notifications
Many people get hooked on their mobile devices.
There is nothing wrong with staying in touch with your team or strategic partners, but you should not let your smartphone drive your behavior.
Most messages do not need to be responded to the moment they hit your inbox.
In addition to emails, you should also look at: Social media notifications, text messages, instant messaging apps, or anything else that pings or buzzes. It is easy enough to turn these alerts and notifications off.
Set some time aside in your day to process messages, whether it is two or three times per day. You will get through them much quicker than you think if you batch process them.
- Leverage Your Team
Where is your time going?
Try tracking it for a day, or even for a week. Document everything you are doing.
Look carefully at your time log. Are you doing anything that could be handled by someone else? Is there anything you do not enjoy doing? Are you trying to take responsibility for low level tasks you are not even good at?
Remember, there are multiple ways to process any task. Unless you need to be handling the task, you can automate, delegate, or eliminate. Carefully consider what items on your list could be streamlined using one of these strategies.
There are people around you that can help. Ask them and find out if they are willing to take on tasks you do not particularly enjoy.
Even after you streamline your work life, you will likely feel the need to stay busy.
This is perfectly normal. However, you should evaluate what you are working on regularly.
To be as productive as possible, you will need to eliminate fluff from your schedule.
Prioritizing your to do list will allow you to put your time and energy into tasks that challenge you and give you more fulfillment.
Let’s get to work!
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