Do you have days when you feel that your thoughts are rushing in many different directions and you’re not able to focus on anything? Does it feel like you have to pull the entire weight of the business on your shoulders alone? Our work lives have become increasingly demanding, with many complex challenges thrown at us at a relentless pace. Add in personal or family needs, and it’s easy to feel constantly overwhelmed.
Some of my coaching clients come with the complaint that their days get caught up in routine activities rather than focusing on strategic ideas and initiatives. They try to make up for this by adding extra time may be early in the morning or late at night when they can get some quiet time. But despite all this, they still feel that they are not on top of things.
This feeling of perpetual overwhelm leads to a racing mind with impaired ability to problem solve. It leads to mental slowness, forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating or thinking logically. Any of these effects, alone, can make us less effective and leave us feeling even more overwhelmed.
So how can you snap out of this vicious cycle? The most important thing is to reflect on and identify patterns of behaviour which might be exacerbating the problem.
For example, one of the business leaders I was coaching found himself constantly stepping in to resolve conflicts between his team members. This was not only an unproductive use of his time; it was also encouraging the team members to run to him with all their problems. Once he recognized this, he was able to create some breathing space for himself to focus on his own priorities with fewer distractions.
Some other reasons for experiencing overwhelm are things like wanting everything to be perfect, or wanting to stay in control and not delegate. It’s important to identify the main stressors which might actually be contributing to 80% of the overwhelm. Identifying and resolving these can help you feel more in control of your time and your life.
I help my clients de-clutter their minds and focus on what’s important for them. This helps them get to their goals faster. Want to explore more, just click on the Request Consultation button above for a complimentary session. Talk soon!
We all at one point in our lives have had this same thought “I don’t have enough time!” Why is that, when we all get the same 24 hours? Why is it that some people achieve so much more with their time than others? The answer lies in good time management.
“Time management” refers to the way that you organize and plan how long you spend on specific activities. It is the ability to utilize one’s time efficiently to be more productive and organized. Self-discipline is the key to manage your time well. When you practice good time management, you leave no room for procrastination. The better you get at it, the more self-discipline you learn. This is a valuable skill that will begin to impact other areas of your life where a lack of discipline has kept you from achieving a goal.
Laura Vanderkam who is the author of many time management and productivity books shared a very useful idea about how we can be good at time management in her TedTalk titled “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”. She says, “It’s not that we don’t have time to do things, it’s just that it’s not a priority for us.” When we consider something to be a priority, we would jump right in and try and accomplish the task as soon as possible.
She says that we should make a list of goals that we need to accomplish and note them down according to our priorities. This Priority list should consist of three sections namely, Career, Relationships and Self. This inadvertently makes us realise that we should have goals in all these sections and not just focus on our career goals.
“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca. We live in a culture obsessed with personal productivity. Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments. By using this method of attention management we: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.
You need time to get what you want out of life. If you wait for extra time to appear, you might lose the game of life. Through right time management, you can “create” the time you need, and not just wait for it to come. By planning your time wisely, you will have more time to do more things. It helps you make conscious choices, so you can spend more of your time doing things that are important and valuable to you. Even a small amount of time once a day, or even once a week, will take you closer to your goals, and you will be surprised at the progress you make.
Accept the fact that you are not Superman or Superwoman. Find time to relax, including the time to do absolutely nothing. The result of having adequate “downtime” is a brain that works better during both professional and personal time. The implementation of realistic time management plans can improve productivity and quality of life.
And it should be – surveys and reports state that an average worker admits to wasting at least 3 hours EVERY DAY – not including lunch!
Of course, all this is costing organizations billions (yes, that’s right - BILLIONS) every year. But let us step away from the cost to the company for a bit and talk about the cost to our lives and our relationships. Because no matter how much fun you are having at work – the wasted time comes back to bite us sooner or later, either as extra-long office hours, wasted weekends, missed family events, stressful vacations or reduced salaries.
Well, there are many tips and tricks to make your day more productive. Here are some of our favourites –
The first 30-45 minutes at work is usually a waste! No matter how conscientious you are, you WILL end up wasting the first half-hour greeting colleagues, settling in, checking your mail and generally thinking of what to do first.
There are two ways to fix this
(This has to be a written down to-do list, not something in your head)
The frog here is the most tedious or the hardest job of the day. The idea is to do it first and get it out of the way. Why? Because we all tend to delay complicated tasks, and as the day progresses, they just become bigger and bigger in our minds.
We wrote ALL in capitals because there are many distractions at work! On average, we switch activities every 3 minutes, and it takes us at least 25 minutes to refocus.
Several studies have pointed out 5 main time-wasters at work – emails, meetings, browsing online, socializing with co-workers, and procrastination.
Here are our tips to fix these
This might seem counterproductive, but it actually works. If you get uninterrupted 8 hours, you won't be able to focus continuously – that's not how the human brain works. We look for distractions, and we are very good at finding them. Giving yourself small goals or shorter deadlines stops you from getting overwhelmed and gives you the carrot of a break to look forward to.
The Pomodoro timer app is a great way to stay focused on small chunks of time.
Even if you take every trick in this article seriously and start tomorrow – you will NOT see any change. For a while.
Productivity is like a muscle; you need to keep working at it to strengthen it. The first day you might only be able to stay away from your phone or WhatsApp for 10 minutes, but I promise you it WILL get better. You just have to keep doing it. It takes time and constant effort to make a dent.
In the long run, you will not just be able to see changes at work, but the positive impact will also spill over to your personal and emotional side. Believe us; you will sleep so much better with a to-do list that's all crossed out and a calendar that is planned.
A large part of becoming more productive is about changing your mindset and habits. At Soaring Eagles, we offer coaching and training programs for individuals and corporates that can help people achieve peak productivity at work. Call us or email us to find out more.