Don’t Waste Time
Most people complain about how there aren’t enough hours of the day and the job they have is overwhelming. Most people overestimate their lack of time. People can spend so much time talking about how hard their job is that they aren’t getting as much work done as they can. For the people that do have the demanding job you have two choices. Accept the job for what it is or do something about it. If you are putting in too many hours and burning out go to your boss and let him know you need some help. If you own your own business look to free yourself up by hiring someone or sub-contracting certain work out. If your boss isn’t doing anything to help then it is time to update the resume and start shopping it around or cut back your hours and let the chips fall where they may. And whatever you do don’t sell back vacation or lose it due to some company policy. Even if what you’re doing is your dream job or in the field you love you need to take the occasional break to recharge.
There are two categories of “To Do’s” – Need To Do and Want To Do. Most people will never finish their Want To Do list even if they lived two lives. To be more at peace on your deathbed make sure you aren’t using all your time on the Need To Do list. The need to do’s can be overwhelming if you let it be. We all have a thousand projects that need our attention from the very important to the unimportant. If we let it we could spend every waking minute knocking out the Need To Do’s never getting to the things we want to do.
On a typical day you should have 1-2 larger tasks to complete and 2-3 smaller ones. That’s it. Your work and home life should be approached this way. When you complete your 1-2 large tasks move to your small tasks then move to your Want To Do list. Chances are at work there are certain things you have been wanting to do and as long as they are ethical and work related they may end up being a boost to your career more than knocking out a few more smaller tasks that no one notices anyway. At home on a day off take on a few larger tasks, detail a car, clean the gutters, or whatever needs to be done then move onto a few smaller items and after they are complete you’re done. That’s it. Stop. I mean it. Sure there are some more small things you could knock out but you could stop sleeping and work all the time and there would still be something that needs to be done. It is time to do something you want to do. Take the family to a movie, grill some burgers in the backyard, shoot some hoops with your son or friend. You deserve to have some time of your own and you owe it to yourself and your family to do more in life then constantly working.
To help make the most of your time focus on the following points.
Make sure those around you are doing their share. If you’re on the lowest rung of the ladder you can still help your situation by making sure your fellow cellar dwellers are carrying their load. By doing so you are also proving yourself to be a leader and will be making your boss’s life easier which may impress him and lead to good things for you. If you’re in a formal leadership position you damn sure better delegate work out. If you have people that you are in charge of and you find yourself doing their work because you want it done right there are two things going on there – both of you are being bad at your job. The other person is getting paid for a job they aren’t doing fully and you’re enabling the situation by doing work they should be doing so you’re being a bad manager. Make sure the people working for you are prepared, trained and have a clear direction in their duties and expectations. Don’t feel sorry for people who can’t deliver. There maybe times where temporary assignments are necessary but someone who isn’t cutting it on a regular basis is someone who needs to be cut loose. If the person is a new hire it is even more important to cut them loose otherwise thei sub-par work will be the norm.
Work. Sounds stupid but when if you are at work you need to work. Don’t search the Internet, don’t hang out in the break room, don’t flirt with women just do your work. If you stay focused at work on work there will plenty of time after work to hang out with friends.
Don’t multi-task. Sure you can straighten up some papers on your desk while you are on a conference call but don’t write an important report or presentation because if you do the chances of it being half-assed will increase greatly. You may miss out on important information on the call that will burn you later. Remember to be in the moment and that means focusing on what you are doing not trying to do three things at once.
Slow down and do things right. Whether you change shocks on a car for a living or work in an office high rise, rushing to finish something to move on to the next thing often leads to miscues that slow you down. Life is a marathon and sprinting will only leave you bent over on the side winded after only a few hundred yards while the people who are pacing themselves run right by you with plenty of fuel to keep on going.
Spend as much time as possible on what makes you money. Lawyers hire paralegals and doctors hire receptionists and nurses to take care of important tasks but hiring these people is also smart business because it lets them handle more clients and patients. It lets them focus on the work that brings in the real money. Whatever defines you at work needs to be what you do the most whenever possible. If you work for someone else take a few minutes and think about what your last review and raise were based on. You may think that the bulk of your job is knock out tasks but often you will see that your job is that of a communicator between people and working with people to accomplish as much as possible. Focus on spending more time on good communication and make sure the people working for you are knocking out as much as possible.
Get a life – in order to stay focused and effective at work you need an activity, hobby, or interest outside of work. You need to meet people outside of your normal area and use your mind on different things than your everyday routine. Doing so will stimulate your creativity and clear your head. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself – what defines you? If you died today what would your family and those you work with say about you at your funeral? Would it all be about what kind of worker you were? Would even your wife and children say how dedicated to your job you were or would your children talk about how you taught them how to swing a golf club, play guitar, or just spent time with them in the backyard. You need to spend time with your family but you also need something that is yours. Don’t be surprised if those close to you drift toward your hobby and eventually start to share it with you. When you have a passion for something, whether it be golf, woodworking, or working on cars that passion can rub off and others will be attracted to that. If you don’t think you have time for a hobby and that you would rather spend your time trying to impress your boss working day and night keep another thing in mind. Work is also social and imagine going in to work Monday morning and being asked about your fishing trip to the mountains. This makes you the center of attention for one simple reason and that is most people are boring. Most people go home watch TV and worry about how they can get promoted and move ahead at work. By having a life and pursuing interests outside of work it may help your career. It may even spark envy from men who are making more money than you because while their weekend may have been boring or filled with work you were tailgating and at the big game or concert. If you still aren’t convinced – think of your time as an investment. One of the standard money tips is to “pay yourself first” then start paying your bills. Why then, with the second most important commodity we have (health is #1), do we give it all away and often leave ourselves with so little time. And then fill that with worthless TV.