Just before the recent 3 day national holiday I was talking to an entrepreneur and he mentioned that he "had to get 5 days of work done now in 4 work days".
It was in a mindset tone of overwhelm and a 'had to do' statement. His mindset would indicate that quantity was a limiting factor and I challenged him to also consider quality of the work. Time is something we cannot change, each day has 24 hours- no more, no less. Time is something you also cannot manage. But you can manage the activities and focus you use during a certain time.
A similar situation can arise when preparing for a vacation or an extended time away. As the number of days get shorter just before the start of vacation you hurry and make decisions faster and more decisive.
A few techniques that I use to successfully deal with these situations are:
Place time in your schedule for preparation and planning. You certainly know these are coming so set aside the needed time for the concentrated effort. If you find that you still under-estimate, then block out a few more hours. Make adjustments as you get more experience.
Instead of adding to your "To Do List", consider your STOP Doing List. Seriously consider if you really need to do the task at all. Can it be delegated with clear instruction of the desired outcome? Should it go on a stop doing list such as email to unsubscribe to? Use David Allen's principle in GTD - Getting Things Done and add it to your "SomeDay/Maybe" List.
80% of what you do is largely irrelevant- so make a positive change. This post covers the 80/20 principle. Just 20% of your daily activities are responsible for 80% of your success, income and personal happiness. Determine and Focus on those 20% activities.
Change your perspective. Get out of the office for a short time, take a walk, take a nap (works wonders), move around. Change your horizon of focus. Instead of being the doer, take the perspective of a project manager. In a project perspective is this the most important task or a critical limiting task? Move up the horizon to your area of responsibility or major goals. Is this really your responsibility or does it contribute significantly to a major goal?
Finally, I learned a technique from an Productivity guru in England. He recommended to use a different persona. Become General George Patton or maybe Attila the Hun! Think of the persona as the personality you can become for a specific task. You can really get some tasks eliminated quickly. Being "Attila the Hun" is both fun and helpful especially with Email cleanup. The delete key is powerful....
A large part of being more productive is knowing where to focus your attention and to regain the control for perspective you need for the current activity.
Check other Productivity related blog posts.
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What mindset do you have to get 5 days of work into 4?