I don't have time for anything!
I don’t have time to go the gym, no time for being with my family; I have no time to pursue my passions, my hobbies.... I do not have time for anything!
I have no time to be productive and that creates frustration and sadness.
All this led me to change my lifestyle, changes in the way I work and overall changes in the way I understand my life. I think I realized about this 5 years ago. I was all day working, but poorly organized, and I had very little time for other activities. So, while recovering from a hernia operation I took those months of “waiting for work” to put clarity in my head and my priorities.
I was convinced to make some changes in my habits that gradually helped me to be more productive.
I realized I had 3 main areas that I had to change.
1. Saying yes to everything it was getting me nowhere. I had to learn to say NO, but most importantly, learn to say NO in a smart way. But, how is this done?
Let’s focus the most difficult situation to say NO. Your manager ☺ might ask you something and you really do not have time to do that new assignment. It is not easy to say NO to your manager, there are some concerns, and I guess that’s normal. You might feel a tingle in your stomach before saying NO. But if you say NO because you're really busy there is nothing wrong with expressing such refusal. So one solution is to talk to your manager and talk about the various projects you are working on and ask her/his help to prioritize your list. From my point of view when I have more than 2-3 priorities, I’m not working effectively. If I have three priorities, my work has a meaning, if I have 10 priorities something goes wrong, I have no priorities I have a chaos of life ☺. It took me a while to understand this, and thanks to the law of Vilfredo Pareto gradually I understood it (80% of your results come from 20% of your tasks). So learning to say NO it does not means to say NO to everything, it’s just finding the right balance and focus on the important stuff. Patrick Lencioni the famous writer about business manager books expressed this quite well “If everything is important then nothing is”
So before you say NO, try to rearrange priorities. You will be amazed at the results you can get!
2. I cannot be answering emails all day! Either I work or I answer emails. It's amazing how many emails we generate and receive each day. From my point of my view we often confuse the true utility of email. It is useful when we need to communicate something to people who are far away in different time zones, it is useful when we are working on proposals, processes and we need feedback, but do you really need to send an email asking for something "urgent" to someone in your own floor? Someone who is in the same building you are? Is this approach the most effective way to work? I had cases of colleagues literally sitting next to me and sending me an email asking me something, really? You're about two meters from me and you send me an email ?? I don’t get it!! One of the decisions I took to be productive is stop answering emails anytime. Either I produce work or I reply to emails, but answering all day long emails is not really working.
It took me time to understand that, but eventually I realized that I was no hired to answer emails ☺. So I began to wonder more and more what the great Peter Drucker explains in his book "The Effective Executive" The reason why my company created my job position is …” And by questioning this I discovered that the email is not as important a I thought, it is a tool to achieve a goal, answering emails is not the goal itself. So since I understood that, I switched off my mail push up notifications. And I started answering email 3 times a day, when I arrive at the office, before having lunch and before going home. The rest of my time is focus to produce work, it is not answering emails. And if something is super-urgent and can not wait my turn to read/reply email .... Phone me! there was a time when phones were used to make phone calls and talk to persons ☺
3. Another habit that has helped me to be more productive is the Podomoro technique. This technique is so simple to understand and at the same time it is so difficult to execute!!!
It is based on focus for 25 minutes to do a task, work on that task and just think about that task. During those 25 minutes we must avoid distractions, it is true that if we work in an office we can easily get distracted, how to avoid that will be a topic for a future article in my blog ☺ Do the test, try to work totally focus for 25-minutes, and if for whatever reason you are distracted then you have to reset the cycle and start again 25 minutes.... It takes some time to learn to be really concentrated in this hyper-connected world we live in, but when you learn, we become much more productive. Give a chance to Podomoro technique, I have installed Podomoro Keeper application on my iPhone and it really helps me to focus on the tasks I need to perform each day.
Since I've internalized these 3 points in my lifestyle, I've got a balance that I did not have before, I managed to be more productive and I have even found time to go to the gym or discovering new hobbies, for example I joined Toastmasters
Give it a chance to "Podomoro", learn how to say NO (when you are really busy) and answer emails in blocks of time. You will be amazed with the results you can achieve!