How To Get The Important Things Done
Have you ever felt like there’s not enough time in the day? That the list of jobs needing to be done is getting longer and longer?
Many of us feel like we are constantly busy, that we are always working. One challenge with this is that socially we value being “busy”, as if it’s a good thing. But is it? In considering our busyness, we need to ask ourselves: Wouldn’t you rather respond to the question “How’s work?” with “Awesome” or “Fun”, rather than just “Busy”? Another challenge with our busyness is that the “urgent” often takes priority over the “important”, meaning we may be focussing our efforts in the wrong places and not getting the important things done.
For many of us, sitting down and analysing how we are spending our time would yielding shocking results. How much of your time is spent on emails, answering the phone, answering questions, and troubleshooting? And how much of your time is spent concentrating on those things that if done well will help drive the business forward? That’s where we should be spending our time, yet for many of us, the important jobs do not get the attention they deserve. Here are a few simple strategies to help you get the important things done.
Focus on the Important Stuff
Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say NO to almost everything.” Very successful people know that in order to get what they want, they need to be focused. They are great at staying away from tasks that detract from this. Peter Drucker recommended that business leaders concentrate on the few things that will produce the greatest results. Do first things first - and second things not at all.
Identify the 5 most important tasks you could do. Identify the most important of these and break it down into 2 hour “actionable chunks”.
Set Aside Quiet Time
A few minutes here and there is not enough to get the desired results in your important tasks. Instead, concentrated blocks of time are what’s needed to really make progress and get things done. Set aside a 2 hour block of time each day which is purely dedicated to important tasks. Ideally, at the same time each day, close the door and turn your phone off, so that team members know to leave you alone and hold interruptions to an allotted time. Then, get into the “flow” state. A “flow” state of high performance can be triggered by cues such as certain music or your desire to challenge and push yourself to excel, i.e. you can create a “flow” state intentionally instead of just getting on with work.
Schedule quiet time to work on your important tasks throughout the week. Commit to your scheduled time and notify your team to minimise interruptions.
Schedule the Important Tasks
At the end of each day prepare for the coming day so that you can begin with the most important task first. Without a clear order in which to do things it’s easy to be distracted by the urgent, the latest email, etc. When we are tempted by lesser issues it’s just the brain seeking comfort in knowing it’s ticked something off the list. It does not care how important it is, it’s just one less thing. So, ideally, begin your day with a clear running order for your 2 hours of high performance and allow no distractions.
Schedule the “actionable chunks” of your most important tasks for tomorrow’s “quiet time”, ideally at the start of the day. Repeat this scheduling each evening... for ever!
There are of course many strategies for high performance. These 3 steps are at the core, and for help with their application or if you’d like to know more about effective time management and how to get the important things done, contact Mike on (03) 329 4647 or send him an email.
Author: Mike Catton. Follow Mike on Facebook and Linked In, or check out his profile on Google+.