Pace has its place
How do you feel on Friday afternoon – worn out, tired, flat? Do your body and your mind agree that you’ve made it to the finish line, and you feel finished? Maybe it’s time to set a different pace for your workdays.
This doesn’t mean you’ll get less done, at least not less of anything that really matters. What it does mean is that you’re managing your life more effectively and not letting the demands on your time get out of control. It also means you’ll still have enough energy at the end of the week to enjoy the end of the week and the weekend that follows.
Categorise your to-do list
If you’re like most professionals you maintain a ‘to-do’ list. It could be kept electronically, in a diary, or just notes on a sheet of paper. The first step in setting a new pace for the week involves taking a hard look at your to-do list and rearranging it. Begin by prioritising everything there into four groups of things to be done. Under the ‘A’ category put everything that’s absolutely essential, critical, and important. Note that this doesn’t mean ‘urgent’. Many things that are considered urgent are really not all that important; they just have short deadlines.
Then do your ‘B’ items – these are still important but they’re not as critical as your ‘A’ list. The ‘C’ items aren’t all that important, nor are they time critical but you do sincerely feel you need to do them.
Finally put everything else into the ‘D’ category. Consider each item there and just what happens if you didn’t do it. Will your career come to an end? Is it going to hurt the business? Chances are that you’ve got things you think you have to do that you can delete and never worry about them again. The same goes for some of your ‘C’ items once you learn how to take things off your to-do list as easily as you put them on it.
Don’t sacrifice yourself for others
There are some people in every organisation who can always manage to come up with work for others to do. They have their own versions of ‘good ideas’ but oddly can’t find the time to do them and need your help to get them done. Well, that’s just what you’ve got to stop doing.
Learn to say ‘no’ in the nicest possible way. When you’re asked to do something extra come back with a statement of what you’re already doing and the importance of those activities. Explain that you’d be glad to help but your calendar is full and priorities have to be observed.
What’s really important in your life?
Take a piece of paper and write down what’s really important in your life. Be scrupulously honest with yourself and don’t forget things like the names of your children or where you want to go for your next holiday. Is making money more important than the people in your life? If so, be honest and put it right at the top of the list, but if your priorities are more human than economic its place will be well below the people that matter. Use this list to remind you what you’re here for.
Some people seem to thrive on chaos and disorganisation. They’re incapable of keeping their desktop free of piles of paper yet somehow they always deliver top-quality work on time. Chances are that their ‘chaos’ isn’t as serious as it seems and they’ve really got systems in place to deal with their responsibilities.
It’s wise to remove the chaos – real or apparent, from your business life and be sure that you’re organised and up-to-date. Finish one thing before starting another and get in the habit of keeping your working area uncluttered.
Revisit the past
Always look backwards before starting something and see what you’ve done before that could be useful. In other words, don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Even if you just repeat the layout of a previous presentation or modify the text from a letter you sent last year, use what you’ve already got as much as possible.
Set aside time for yourself
It’s not going to be easy but you can’t spend every working hour doing things without having some time for yourself. Set aside some time to do things like reading industry journals or keeping up with developments in your field. These aren’t ‘to-do’ types of tasks – they’re personal development and part of everyone’s business life.
When you follow these guidelines you’ll find that something amazing happens. Your week will have more time in it and you’ll feel less stressed out. Your body and your mind will have more energy and the week will end before you develop that washed out feeling. It’s not the same as driving yourself ‘til you drop – in fact, it’s a lot better!
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Business Roadmap provides practical business advice for small to medium sized businesses that are trying to overcome problems, or are trying to achieve their vision and full potential. Visit the Business Roadmap website for further information.
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