Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Newsletter Article.....Busyness: Three Mistakes That Might be Stealing Your Time

Do you feel like you are super-busy, but nothing seems to get done? Does it feel like your "to do" list is a life sentence? Is it just me or does it seem like sometimes we don't feel productive unless we are super-busy? But busyness is not the same as being productive! Consider these three common time-stealing busyness mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Failure to Plan
If you go through your day without a general sense of what you would like to accomplish and how you are going to do it, you will spend a lot time asking yourself, "Now, what do I have to do today?" or "What should I do now?" or my favorite, "It's time to pick up the kids already?" A plan gives you a map to your day. Taking time to plan (in the morning or the night before) allows you to group like tasks together, identify priority tasks and the time needed to complete them; it gives you direction for your day.

What time of day are your mental and physical energies high? If possible, use that time for completing your most important projects and tasks. If you have errands or calls to make, group them together and complete them in single blocks of time. Remember, the goal is not to fit in as much as you can. Be sure to schedule some "you time" as well.

Routines are my favorite way to make the most of my time. You might already have some routines in place that you just do because it's habit. For example, Monday used to be my cleaning day because there was no way I was going out of the house on a Monday unless I absolutely had to. As your life changes, so will your routines. Now that my children are a little older, my schedule has adjusted.

Multi-tasking
"What?!" you ask. "Doesn't multi-tasking give me more time and make me more productive?" Not necessarily. Besides adding more stress to your day, multi-tasking can actually make you less productive. Doing two things at once divides your attention and so each task is done with less focus and accuracy; it could take you more time to complete the tasks than if you did them separately.

I'm not saying to stop folding laundry while chatting on the phone. Tasks that are routine and require little thought are great to do while you are say, waiting in the car pool lane, sitting in the waiting room or, on hold with the cable company.

Interruptions
Throughout the day you are exposed to interruptions; it's called life. Phone calls, children needing help, email and unexpected visitors are just a few examples of requests of your time. These requests draw your attention away from the task at hand. Of course some of these interruptions are beyond your control, but there are ways to defend off distractions during a specific period of time which you want to focus.
  1. Don't answer the phone. If you need to answer, keep the time to a minimum. Just kindly ask the caller if it would be OK if you give them a call later because you are right in the middle of something that needs your attention.
  2. Let family members know that you will be unavailable during a specified time. OK, I know this is can be a tough one, but give it a try.

  3. Only check your e-mail during specific times of the day. (Oh this is hard one for me!) This is one interruption that you do have control over.

So, for your homework for the next two weeks: keep a detailed journal of all of your activities. Write down what you do and how long it takes you. That includes errands, phone calls, housework, dinner preparation, etc. By doing this, you will be able to see how you are spending your time. Maybe there are activities that are using up more of your time than you realize. You might discover that with a little rearranging and planning, you will be able to carve out more time for the things you value and enjoy.

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Paula, I finally got a chance to check my blog. I'm glad you stopped by. :-)
What are you talking about? Your blog is great! I like the format.
And I will be checking in often, so I can be organized and impress my husband. :-)

Paula Constable said...

Hi Sara!

How was the move? It sounded like you had some good organization going on! The main thing is that you are all there.

Post a Comment