We only have 24 hours every day. It never feels like enough.
We have to sleep, prepare for work in the morning, spend time at work, buy groceries, spend time with the family, clean up and take a break and breath. On top of this we should try to work out at least 30 minutes/day and try to invest some time improving ourselves, our skills and knowledge.
It is a lot and it drains us. It is the reason that burn outs are becoming so usual.
My mother is the typical example. She is great at her job; she keeps getting headhunted for these awesome positions. Her problem is that she wants to do her job so well, impress everyone and keep everyone happy, that she does too much. She seeks out extra assignments when she already has a full schedule, she offers to help others when they need help even though she doesn’t have any more time than they do.
This of course is the reason she gets these great jobs!
The downside is that it is wearing and tearing. 2 years back she burnt out. She had to start seeing a psychiatrist and had to take a break from work.
She decided she needed to slow down.
2 years later, she is back where she started working harder than ever, and loving it.
She has been able to find a better balance in her work now. She has found smart ways to get as much done, but spend less time and energy on achieving it.
She told me about the differences she has made in her life and how it has helped her and I was very impressed.
These 7 techniques are what saved her from another burn out.
1. What is the most important use of your time?
Asking yourself this question every day will make an enormous difference in your life. The most important use of your time is what your bosses care about, that is what they will measure your success against.
It is great if you do extra tasks but what you are being measured on is the most important use of your time. You might as well do that REALLY, really well because that is what will get you promoted.
2. Get help to focus on the most important tasks
Once you know the most important use of your time make sure you find time to work on those tasks. Ask your boss for help in clearing distracting jobs of your desk. Delegate tasks that spread your focus and ask instead for more responsibility in the area you should be focusing on.
3. Plan your week
Making a weekly plan lets you organize in a much more efficient manner. By looking at the whole week you can stream line tasks and processes to make you more efficient. You can come up with smart plans that might save you time on travel or starting and stopping different tasks.
If you aren’t planning by the week already you will be surprised by how much time it can save you.
4. Organize you day
Once you have planned your week, organize your day. Make sure that you work on your first task, first. Until it is finished, then move on to the next task.
This will make you a lot more efficient and helps you get an overview over what you really need to produce, today.
5. Work in Quadrant 2
This comes from Stephen Coveys book 7 habits of highly effective people. All tasks can be split into 4 quadrants.
- Urgent and important
- Not urgent but important
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent, not important
By working in quadrant 2, Not urgent but important, you are proactively getting rid of important tasks before they have time to become critical and stressful.
By being a step ahead you can usually finish the tasks faster and avoid the unnecessary stress they cause.
I have written more about these principals here:
6. Get in earlier, work harder, stay later
This is always a good tip. You get more done, you are more focused and you work for a longer time. This will make you more efficient and give you the peace of mind to relax when you aren’t at work. You got more done than all your colleagues did together.
7. Be proactive
Always being one step ahead of changes.
Create your own brakes and keep working on what you can influence, forget the things you cannot change.
Don’t risk a burn out because you want too much. You should work hard towards your goals, but work smart. My mother, just as many others, has had to learn the hard way, that pushing yourself to hard never has any positive outcomes.
Follow the 7 tips above and I know you will soon find yourself even more efficient than you are today letting you spend more time with your family and more time recharging your batteries.
Photo Credit: alancleaver_2000