“From Burnout to Superman Productivity” Series: Tip 4
Do you find yourself caught up in a constant round of fire fighting? Are you running around like a headless chicken? Is there ever a quiet moment? I have been there and I still fall off the wagon occasionally.
It’s like an addiction. For a long time you revel in the “panic mode”. You take pride in how well you can multitask and juggle problems of all sorts. You can drive, eat and answer emails at the same time. You believe that you are a superman! Well, almost anyway.
These are typical reactions you hear from a perennial “fire-fighter”. Do you know how busy I am? How understaffed we are? We can’t afford to hire more people? I don’t have time to change!
I have said it all. “I don’t have time to change!” was my favorite excuse. Sounds quite stupid right? Not at all, when you are busy being busy.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that it’s NOT effective and it’s NOT efficient! You don’t get the important things done. Before you know it, the panic mode will bring you to a complete meltdown.
The good news is that this can be fixed (if you really want to).
Prioritize to do it, delegate it, or defer it.
Unforeseen things happen every day but there are ways to make sure it doesn’t take your attention from more important work. I use this simple model from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” (recommended read):
- Do it. If it takes less than 2 minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.
- Delegate it. If it takes longer than 2 minutes, ask yourself am I the right person to do this? If the answer is no, delegate tasks.
- Defer it. If the action takes longer than 2 minutes and you are the right person to do it, you have to defer it to one of your action lists or find a time in your calendar.
Be disciplined. Don’t start unplanned things that take more than 2 minutes if it’s not a “life and death” situation, and you are the only one in this world that can help. Most of the time you can “delegate it” or “defer it” to a later time.
If you are the right person to do this and it takes more than 2 minutes. You need to ask these two questions before you jump and cancel whatever you are doing:
- How important is this? Is this more important than whatever I’m doing at the moment? (Think 80-20. Not everything is important. Force yourself to prioritize).
- How urgent is this? (Do I have to do it all now? Today? This week?)
If it’s not important AND urgent, it could probably wait, and you can defer the activity to your action list or to a later time in your calendar.
I use this model to define, prioritize and take action on all my work, grouped broadly into the following types of work:
- Digital inboxes (emails, messaging applications, social media)
- Incoming calls
- Action lists from meetings
- New ideas (find a way to document all your ideas so that you get it out of your head)
Try this and let me know if it works for you.