You always want to do your best. You want everyone around you to know that you are dedicated and motivated to succeed. You want your customers or clients to know that you care about them and will give them a high quality product or service. Sometimes, you can push yourself too hard, burn yourself out and become less productive and less effective. Believe it or not, you can “give it your all” without getting all worn out.
Jason Womack, in his book Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, offers several tips that you can use to reduce some of the stress and strain of running a business or managing a department. I’ve listed my top five below, in no particular order.
- Have shorter meetings. Most people hate meetings because they think of them as unproductive time sucks. But they don’t have to be. Meetings can be useful ways to keep up with how important projects are progressing and delegate new responsibilities. Womack recommends cutting a one hour meeting down to 45 minutes. Knowing you have less time in which to get things done will help you keep the meeting focused.
- Take advantage of “idle” time. This is my favorite. I see people doing this all the time; I do it myself. Always carry some work with you. Have some documents on hand to read while you’re waiting for a meeting to get started, while waiting to board a flight or while riding on public transportation. You can also use this time to send or reply to emails.
- Unclutter your life. Womack recommends unsubscribing to newsletters and other non-essentials that bombard you via email. If you like reading newsletters but find they distract you from business, then you could create an email account for receiving newsletters and other unimportant emails, and give yourself a reminder to check that account once a week, maybe on Sunday when you’re having your morning coffee.
- Eliminate distractions. Maybe newsletters in your inbox don’t distract you. Maybe it’s something else, like email popups that let you know every time a new email message comes in. Maybe it’s Skype popups that draw your attention away from your work and toward conversations in which you’re not even involved. Those problems are easily solved; just disable the popups or set your Skype status to Do Not Disturb. But what if your distractions come in human form? If you have your own office, you could establish an open-door policy: If the door isn’t open, you aren’t available. If you work in an open office or cubicle, you’ll have to be firm with colleagues who always seem to need “a minute” of your time, and make sure they understand when you absolutely can’t be distracted.
- Don’t try to do everything at once. If you have a big project you’re working on, instead of trying to get it all done at once, break it up into pieces. For instance, you have three months to complete a project, then set aside a block of time to work on it every day, once a week, bi-weekly, whatever works best for you. If you have several projects to complete, then prioritize them. Which ones are the most important or have the shortest deadline? Or, which ones require the least amount of time to complete? Again, it’s whatever works best for you.
Dedication is a virtue. But, you won’t do yourself or anybody else any good if you burn the midnight oil until you’re all burned out.
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