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now, Get it Done....

· Time Management,stress

"I can't get it all done!" "I'm so busy, I can't get to the big things!" " I get so many emails I can't get any real work done." " I can't stand it when my in box is more than one screen long!" "People need things all the time from me!"

How often have you heard (said!) these things. The tyranny of external pressure. Dancing to other people's rythm. Responding all the time, never driving the process. Too bogged down in the detail to do the strategy stuff and the big picture stuff. The stuff that matters and that really makes a difference. The reason why we go to work.

Feel like that? You're not alone. Everyone feels like that. They focus on the sand which fills the jar, when they should be focusing on the rocks - the big, solid projects.

"But I have to respond" people say. "Do you?" I say. And then I say this. "If you were on a plane, or in a meeting, you wouldn't respond for a few hours or even a whole day. You couldn't. And what happens then? Either it goes away or you deal with it later, or even better they sort it out for them selves. "

I have never forgotten something my boss said to me when he found me still at work at 9 o'clock at age 25. He looked at the huge pile of mail on the edge of my desk (we still got letters then) and he asked me if anyone had chased me for the stuff at the bottom of the pile. Nope....'Well, he said, if it fell into the bin, would it matter...?" As it happens, it often didn't. If you haven't replied in two weeks and no one has chased you, you can pretty safely assume that they solved the problem themselves or it just wasn't that important in the first place. Never do this with bills though... or anything from the taxman...

My whole life I have declined to answer the phone or email at certain points in the day. I try to keep at least two hours free every day to do a big thing. And if I manage to do it, I feel good at the end of the day. If I answer email all day I feel frustrated and a bit miserable.

I was lucky that I once had a secretary. A real secretary - and she protected me, carved out time for me, fended off things that were not important. She was much older than me. She looked after me. If I could do one thing in the current working world, I would bring back that kind of personal assistant - they are worth their weight in bottom line gains.

And if you can't get a secretary, here are a few suggestions for putting procrastination to the bottom of the pile.

1. Put your out of office on for two hours every day. Take your phone off the hook. Turn off the ringer (unless you know there's something urgent due). Anyone who needs you will find a way to get you if it's really urgent, and if it's not - they'll leave a message. Don't look at your emails either. And turn off those alerts...they're a curse.

2. Have three 'rocks' on a list at all times. They're the things that make a difference. Do them in your two hour clear periods.

3. Don't accept every meeting request. There are some you need to go to, but there are some that are for others' convenience, not yours. Find common convenience.

4. Don't worry about emptying your in box. If that makes you feel like you might faint, build up to this. Let one or two go unanswered. See what happens.....

5. Tell someone what you plan to achieve today. Get them to ask you at the end of the day if you did it. (This one really works).

 

But most of all, take back just a little control. It's your life. Try to make it the best one that you can.

1. Put your out of office on for two hours every day. Take your phone off the hook. Turn off the ringer (unless you know there's something urgent due). Anyone who needs you will find a way to get you if it's really urgent, and if it's not - they'll leave a message. Don't look at your emails either. And turn off those alerts...they're a curse.

2. Have three 'rocks' on a list at all times. They're the things that make a difference. Do them in your two hour clear periods.

3. Don't accept every meeting request. There are some you need to go to, but there are some that are for others' convenience, not yours. Find common convenience.

4. Don't worry about emptying your in box. If that makes you feel like you might faint, build up to this. Let one or two go unanswered. See what happens.....

5. Tell someone what you plan to achieve today. Get them to ask you at the end of the day if you did it. (This one really works).

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