Stressing out over your workload? It’s easy to get overwhelmed in our 24/7, always-on world. So, how do you stop spinning, slow down?
Have you every cataloged everything you do in a day that wastes time and energy? If you did, you’d be shocked by what your list would reveal. Which is why today I’d like to help you regain focus and control by simply helping you change a few bad habits at work. Follow my advice and implement these changes and you can take back your calendar, reduce stress and make permanent progress towards improving productivity in your career!
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Meetings And Conference Calls
Meetings are necessary, except when they’re not. I am sure you’ve attended a meeting or joined a conference call, and thought “this could have been addressed via email”. Necessary meetings are key to improving productivity and team engagement. Unnecessary meetings do the exact opposite.
Before requesting a meeting, make sure the content you’re planning to cover requires a meeting or conference call. If an agenda isn’t shared along with the request, and you’re unsure of the purpose of the meeting, ask the organizer for details. If the meeting isn’t necessary, don’t waste your time or someone else’s, recommend a quick email exchange or 15-minute scheduled phone call.
Putting Off Difficult Work
When a task is difficult to tackle, it’s easy to talk yourself into pushing it aside until later. The problem with your strategy is, you’ll end up pushing it aside until you’re in an absolute time crunch to complete it. This scenario creates a situation where you’re trying to complete something you find difficult, confusing or annoying, in a reduced time frame; which only increases your stress.
Instead of putting a difficult task aside, schedule it for the time of day when you’re most productive. I’m a morning person and I find by tackling difficult projects early in the day, I’m able to think more clearly and focus on the task at hand. As a result of completing a difficult project or task, the remainder of my day is more enjoyable because I’m not constantly dreading doing something I don’t want to do.
Carve out time to complete difficult tasks and move on. You’ll improve your productivity and attitude at the office.
While email ultimately saves loads of time, it becomes a time suck when you check in too frequently. If you’re working on something and stop to read a new email, your mind immediately starts focusing on the email message versus the task at hand. Once you move away from email and return to your work, you have to take a second to recall where you left off. Stopping and starting a project not only wastes time but also interrupts creative thinking.
Instead of immediately checking new messages as they arrive, schedule a time to review email a few times a day. A cadence of morning, midday and late afternoon works well for me. When you set aside time for email, you’ll feel less stressed by inbound requests because you won’t feel the weight of managing two tasks simultaneously.
Refusing To Delegate
One of the hardest skills to learn for many people is the art of delegation. By convincing yourself it will be faster if you just do it yourself, you’re creating unnecessary stress. Delegating tasks and projects allows someone on your team the opportunity to learn a new skill, and take on more responsibility, while simultaneously reducing your own workload.
While you may not be comfortable letting go of the reigns at first, in time you will see your team is much more capable than you think. Give delegation a try, I promise you won’t regret it!
Browsing The Web
Sometimes browsing is a necessary evil at work. You google something for a project and next thing you know you’re trying to figure out where to meet up with friends for dinner. An hour later and you have totally forgotten what you originally wanted to search for.
To reduce internet distractions, set time aside each day to take a break and browse the web. Once the time is up, dive back into your work. Cutting the cord is a difficult habit to break at first. But, once you get over the hump, you’ll become more productive and less stressed when you gain an hour or more back from your day.
Years ago I had a boss pull me aside on the first day of a new job and warned me about getting involved with office gossip. I had never had a boss do that, so I took note. She explained it was a waste of time and the negativity that goes along with office gossip often times causes people to become less engaged with their work and ultimately unhappy with their professional situation.
At the time I didn’t think much about what she said, but I honored her request because she was an awesome leader and I very much valued her opinion. As time passed, I watched first hand as the same group of individuals, who sat around the water cooler, slowly became the same people who hated everything and everyone in the office. Their negativity was off the charts! I quickly understood my bosses sage advice and frequently reference it with my team today.
If you want to remain happy and productive at work, don’t hang out with unproductive, negative people. They will bring you down and drive your stress levels up.
Start Improving Productivity
While my short list does not touch on every aspect of improving productivity or reducing stress, I hope it has you thinking about making some changes.
Sit down and analyze your day. What items could you prioritize differently? What areas of your schedule could you adjust to free up time? How could you delegate more or partner with other business units? If you tweak a few items on your list, you’ll gain back lost time and productivity which will result in less stress and a happier you!