Not Enough Time
Why does it seem like there’s never enough time to do the work that needs to be done? Between your overflowing inbox, never-ending meetings, and fire-drill deadlines, it may seem impossible to make progress. But it’s not. Here’s what you do.
1. Stop saying “yes” to everything
Everyone loves a team player. But saying “yes” to everything can be dangerous. You run the risk of over-committing, which leads to underperformance or burn-out. Neither of which are good for you or your team.
The first step to regaining control of your workday is to be more mindful of how you spend your precious minutes. When you’ve got a loaded schedule and someone unexpectedly asks you to join a meeting, it’s okay to pause before responding. Consider the impact of losing an hour of your time. Will a deadline slip on the project you’re responsible for? Does the success of the meeting hinge upon your attendance? If you decide it’s okay to skip it, politely ask the person inviting you if you can catch up afterward, given your pressing deadline. Your colleague will respect your honesty and diligence.
Pro Tip: If your boss is the one who keeps dragging you into meetings and sidetracking your work, it can be much tougher to say “no.” Instead, provide them with options. For example, “I’m happy to attend this meeting, but my other priority will be delayed by a day as a result.” Let your boss make an informed decision as to the best way you should be spending your time.
2. Block your calendar
Do you ever feel like other people are ruling your calendar? It’s time to take it back! Look ahead to your next available chunk of time and book a conference room for an hour. Then, invite…only you! Give the “meeting” a title that other people will steer clear of like, “Meeting Prep.” Who would want to crash a meeting about meetings? Nobody, dude. Nobody. With time officially blocked, you should be uninterrupted and productive as ever.
Pro Tip: Set a recurring meeting on your calendar at your ideal time of day to be productive. Then, hold that time sacred. Don’t check email. I repeat, don’t check email during your heads down time. Also, do whatever you can to keep people from scheduling over your time block. If this strategy works for you, be sure to share examples of your productivity with your boss. They’ll help you advocate for keeping the time blocked.
3. Get out of sight
A great way to get things done without being interrupted by your coworkers is to get out of the office. Coffee shops are an obvious, go-to place to post up with your laptop. But you can also explore office lobbies (other than your own), parks, fast-casual restaurants, museums, places of worship (bring paper and pen only—no tech), friends’ houses, or libraries. There are tons of places that will allow you to park yourself for extended periods of productive time.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to work somewhere off-site, make sure your boss and your team know what you’re working on before you go, and how to get in touch with you if an emergency comes up. This will reduce the emails and questions you might receive about where you are and what you’re doing.
4. Decide and commit
When you make decisions on how to spend your time, you are choosing what you won’t do just as much as you are choosing what you will do—literally. The word “decision” comes from Latin (decidere “to decide, determine,” “to cut off,” from de “off” (see de-) + caedere “to cut” (from PIE root *kae-id- “to strike”).
I hope this has inspired you to cut off the things that are distracting you and limiting your productivity.
Now, get out there and reclaim your calendar (and your sanity).