Stop Being Busy. Get Productive!

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You are busy. Your task list is growing so fast that if you wanted to print it out you’d have to use old-fashioned, continuous listing paper just to keep up. Sometimes you get in the zone checking off task after task, and feeling tremendously productive. Other times, you just sit there immobilized by the sheer amount of work lurking on that list and dreading that no matter how many tasks you check off today, you won’t accomplish anything really worthwhile.

I’ve felt that way myself (and still do from time to time). For me, this feeling creeps in if I slowly get disconnected from the goals I set myself. What is the most important (not necessarily the most urgent) thing I want to achieve? What goals do I want to reach short term, mid term and long term? If you are working off an endless list of tasks the clear view of your goals often blurs. You tend to do urgent, but non-strategic, stuff instead of concentrating on what’s most important for you and your organization.

Stop!

As technicians, we’re used to thinking in details. Meaning, we must force ourselves to take a step back and see the whole picture. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by your task list, stop, and step back. Try to list all the projects and goals you’re currently working on. For this exercise, it’s usually a good idea to mix your business goals with your most important personal goals as these tend to influence your daily work as well. Got that list? Good. Now, order this list from most important to least important either by assigning numbers (starting with 1 for the most important one), or by rewriting your list with the most important project on top.

Reconnect!

As a first step, you can now look at your task list and map the tasks to your projects. How many of them belong to not so important projects? How many of them aren’t a part of any project on your list? Are you working your most important projects at all? You might see that you don’t have a single task in your list which advances your most important project! As an quick fix, try to think about the next actionable step for your top three projects and put them on your task list. And try to get rid of at least three tasks which don’t belong to your top three projects.

Go!

This should already give you a better feeling about focusing on the right thing and actually going somewhere instead of just checking off task after task. Next week, I want to expand this exercise and show you how to visualize all your most important projects to balance your work and find synergies between them. Subscribe to our RSS Feed or use email not to miss out!

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