Stop Saying You're Busy
Productivity, it's easier said than done. We've all heard that reluctant statement “I’ve just been so busy...” which generally is an indicator of one thing: being unorganized. It happens. Nobody is perfect. But it is an issue for those who constantly dream of a better life. Those who constantly talk about wanting to do something but yet never do it. Why? You guessed it, because they are “too busy.”
Breaking the Habit
Everything is generally easier said than done. Doing away with “I’m so busy” can not only change your outlook on everything but also impact how people view your ability to get things done.
1. Learn to Prioritize
There are plenty of ways to go about this but ultimately what we need to focus on here is what tasks are in a variable of urgent and important. One option to improve your productivity would be the Eisenhower Matrix. With this you can break your tasks into 4 quadrants. Quadrants 3 and 4 include things that, urgent or not, do not matter. Effective people spend their time in Quadrant 2, minimize their time spent in Quadrant 1.
You could also give Pareto's principle, or the 80/20 Rule, a try. The Pareto Principle suggests that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. You can find this rule rather often in business. For example:
• 20% of sales reps might generate 80% of total sales.
• 20% of your customers might account for 80% of your total profits.
In order to have this rule work, you might find yourself applying the matrix from above. You can also lean into something most everyone ignores, their gut. When you're working on something stop and ask yourself "is this worth my time?" Your gut response will more than likely tell you what need to be doing instead. With time, you will gain experience and know exactly what you need to prioritize and work on before anything else.
2. It’s Time to Schedule
Once you know what it is that you need to work on, you then need to schedule it into your life. I personally live by my Google Calendar. I utilize Asana for tracking, which also syncs to my calendar. Anything and everything that needs to be done is essentially in a single location, Google Calendar. It also is in your favor to block out on your calendar what can be done in specific time blocks.
For example, maybe from 7a to 10a you handle P0 to P3 tasks (P being Priority). From 10a to 12p you knock out any low hanging tasks such as emails, phone calls, texts, etc. Call it your communication block. From 12p to 1p you take lunch, clear your mind. From 1p to 3p you knock out all P4-P10 tasks. From 3p-6p you do a sweep of anything and everything that might have come up throughout the day.
If it is a task that pertains to you and you can get it done AFTER all other necessary tasks are completed, then go for it. Another benefit of utilizing a schedule is people learn that your time is valuable, and in order to fit into your schedule they must be worth your while. Keep in mind to also block out ‘me time’ as rest and relaxation are most definitely a necessity in day-to-day productivity.
3. Saying ‘No’
Once you have determined a schedule you need to know what type of tasks pertain to you. If you are a pool cleaner you are not going to take jobs mowing yards just because you are in the same area. The same applies to everything else for everyone else. Know what tasks you are capable of completing and only accept those tasks, then fit them into your schedule accordingly. You have to hold yourself accountable to this so that you can make sure fire decisions on tasks as they come about. if you find yourself doing more low priority tasks you will quickly see high priority tasks build up. At that point you have to stop and tell yourself “I have chosen to focus on the wrong things, and I need to correct this decision.”
It’s Not Easy
Managing time is not easy, even the greatest leaders will have hiccups at some point. Shit happens, if you will, but you just have to stay focused and push through whatever it is that you know that needs to get done. Just keep in mind that saying “I’m busy” is just sugarcoated way of saying “I’m disorganized and have no idea what is going on.” Prioritize what is truly important, make time for people who truly matter, and understand that only you can control your time.