Is your to-do list full of projects?

African Bush Elephant in Mikumi National Park,...
Many people add tasks to their daily and weekly to-do lists which are actually a major project in themselves.

This is one of the reasons those particular items often get left.  They're just to big to manage in one go.
  • Are you having difficulty prioritising what's on your list?
  • Is it difficult to work out what's important?
  • Are you putting off larger tasks because you don't have time or you're reluctant to do them?
Think about all the tasks on your to-do list.  Are they actually projects or large tasks that will in reality take longer than two hours?

Break larger tasks down into smaller, shorter steps that you can achieve in less than two hours.

Be realistic about what you can get done in a day.  Only write down as many tasks as you can actually complete in the time available.

You have your day to day work, so there's no point in allocating an additional 8 hours of tasks.  It just won't happen.  In all likelihood you won't get more than 3-5 done.

Allocate time in your schedule to complete these tasks.

If you do have a large project to complete - how important is it in the grand scheme of things, what's the benefit to spending time on it?

Set aside time on a daily or weekly basis to work on this project.  Having a regular time slot for a particular project enables you to make steady progress, without having to find a large chunk of time to do it all at once.

Review your list and break those larger tasks down into more manageable, realistic actions.

African Bush Elephant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Create a to-do list that works.

Manage your email while on holiday

I was talking to a client this morning who, like many of you at this time of year, has returned from their two week Summer holiday.

They run their own Tax Advice and Accountancy business, so they are very mindful of looking after their clients.  Usually they would spend time working, even though they were on holiday.

This time they set up an automatic 'Out of Office' email for while they were away.

The benefit:

1.  It lets your clients, customers and anyone else know that you're away from the office - on holiday, so they won't (or shouldn't) expect a response from you during that time.

2. It provides an alternate contact for their enquiry - a phone or email contact for a colleague or member of your team.  For urgent enquiries only you can include your mobile number - if appropriate and only if absolutely necessary.

3. It keeps them informed - they know when you'll return and when they're likely to get a response.

They also spent an hour a day while they were away, just checking and dealing with their email.  This was their choice and their personal preference and didn't interfere with the enjoyment of their holiday.

As a result of these two things, they found that any work interruptions to their holiday where almost entirely avoided (they only had one).  They returned to just 50 emails in their Inbox, not the usual 1000's they would normally expect after two weeks away.

Are you able to switch off entirely when you go away on holiday or are you constantly drawn into work related issues?

Are you able to delegate effectively to your team, so you can enjoy your time-off without having to stay in contact with the office?

Get in touch if you want to really relax, switch off and enjoy guilt-free holidays.

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Image courtesy of [Winnond] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The More Time You Have, The Less You Do

There are many reasons why we procrastinate and it's not always due to fear, laziness or having too much time.

Some people work better when there's the pressure of a deadline to meet - even though meeting that deadline puts them under enormous stress and they end up working long hours to meet it.

If only they'd planned better, they could have avoided the stress and long working hours ... or could they? Change your mindset, set interim deadlines to avoid the last minute rush.

Problem: Trying to do too much all in one go can seem overwhelming and another reason to put things off.

Solution: Break a task up in to more manageable chunks - at least you can be one, two or more steps ahead as the deadline looms.

Problem: Lack of knowledge or skills can be another reason to put things off - you're not sure where to start, so leave it for another day or when you have more time to think about it or deal with it.

Solution: Let someone else do it who has the knowledge and skills or add these to your training and development plan.

Simply having too much to do - so your decision making process is the one with the closest deadline gets done NOW!

Problem: Perfectionism can be another reason to procrastinate and one I hear quite often. You either spend more time on a task than you should, because you're always aiming for 110% or you don't start/finish a task because you want it done perfectly first time and don't want to start unless you can finish it.

Solution: Think 80/20.  Your idea of perfect may not be the same as someone else's.  What's 'good enough'?  Get the job done without spending too much time trying to achieve 100%.

Think about the tasks you put off and look at what causes you to leave things to the last minute. This can help you to discover and address the underlying reasons.

Need help?  Get in touch and book a chat to address your procrastination problems.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net