Are you keeping lots of balls in the air at the moment?
How are you doing? Are you anxious about dropping some of them?
My life is certainly full of competing ‘jobs’ at the moment – some of them very practical and routine, others more complex and strategic.
Stephen Covey, in his wonderful book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about separating the Important from the Urgent to prevent us running around like busy fools.
He encourages us to decide what matters most and spend time and energy there. And he’s not talking about ‘things’. He’s talking about developing good habits: habits like planning ahead, building relationships, looking after ourselves to keep focused and fresh.
I’m not a naturally organised, self-disciplined person. I rather like distractions and can get quite energised by last minute deadlines.
But I love the satisfaction of achieving the outcomes I want and creating space for the important stuff.
Here are my tips for juggling effectively and without stress:
1) Clarify your priorities. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of every day and ask yourself: What are the important things today? Write them down, then prioritise them. Better still, prioritise each month, each week, then each day to keep the bigger picture.
As Abraham Lincoln said: “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first hour sharpening the axe.”
2) Make a plan before you start. This helps focus the mind and can be a great way of breaking down scary big projects that we keep putting off. If you chair meetings, spend time clarifying the purpose and agenda to keep everyone focused and efficient.
3) Get going on the high value things. Resist the temptation to clear up small things first. Keep going on your most important task and you’ll get it done quicker. Stopping something and coming back to it can increase the time spent by 50% or more.
4) Stop doing things that don’t matter. That’s not dropping balls, that’s choosing not to spend time doing some things. What are you doing out of habit? What can you delegate? What are you doing to please other people?
5) Review regularly what’s important. Temper your perfectionist tendencies: don’t do more than you need to if priorities keep changing. Keep checking out what matters most to the people who matter most. That way you can save your best and really deliver on the high value stuff.
6) Prioritise the most important things: your health, your family and friends. Spend quality time away from work so you can return refreshed and energised, ready to manage the unexpected new balls awaiting you!
Wishing you success and happiness.