A few years ago, it seemed like busyness was all the rage and the phrase ‘I’m so busy’ was the thing to say. Having time on your hands to take care of yourself, or enjoy your life, didn’t win any points. Unsurprisingly, we soon discovered that approach wasn’t doing anyone any favours – whether at work or at home, people weren’t performing at their best, and stress was rife.
Today, the focus is definitely shifting towards a more sensible approach to time management: one where productive is the goal, rather than just busy. And even then, we are taking care to redefine ‘productive’ to mean what works for us, rather than other people. However, with the historical preference for busyness in our culture, moving into a new mindset is far from easy.
That’s where learning new tools and techniques to help prioritise your time can be of immense benefit. While many of us assume we know how to manage our time in the best way, when we’re put under pressure, it can be hard to say no, or make the most sensible decision. It’s far too easy to get swayed by what other people think is urgent or important.
Getting the Most From Every Day
While there is a lot of great advice out there to help you get more out of your 24 hours in a day, the reality is that prioritisation and decision making is a more complex challenge than we first imagine. There are many, interconnected elements to making time for the ‘right’ things and making the right decisions when faces with contrary options.
That’s why, in addition to practical strategies around managing time – things like blocking notifications or scheduling important tasks first – it’s also important to develop your self-awareness (psychometrics are a great tool to help with this). Self-awareness can help uncover areas that are important and urgent for your personal and career goals, but it also helps reveal when you might get tempted to procrastinate. It could also reveal why you feel much more inclined to do something someone else asks you to do, than to pick up and run with a task you assign yourself. Self-awareness can also help you understand how and why you make decision; another important part of time management.
Tied into strategies around goal setting, clarifying expectations, and defining what is urgent versus what is important, self-awareness can be an essential tool in fighting the busyness curse.
Prioritisation and decision making also links into other elements of personal effectiveness, such as assertiveness – being able to say no, or ask for more time when you need it – as well as negotiation skills, and delegation. It’s also about being able to assess our risk for stress and burnout, and take appropriate action when we feel overwhelmed. And that action will be different for everyone. For some it will be saying ‘no’ to everything for a time while we recalibrate. For others it might mean saying ‘yes’ but to different things. Others, still, might need more support from those around them. Often, it’s a complex mix of all of these things and more. But the key is to know what works for you.
Here are a few things to think about when trying to develop your prioritisation and decision making skills:
- Why do you need or want to manage your time differently? What will it mean for you?
- What is currently stealing your time?
- How can you proactively plan your time better?
- Do you procrastinate? When and why?
- What interruptions do you face?
- How do you deal with requests? Do you feel you can say no, or ask for more time?
- What are some of the signs that signify you’re stressed or reaching burnout?
Just by thinking about these things, you might begin to recognise some areas and ways in which you can begin shifting your attitude and approach to how you spend your time – and hopefully find more of it to do the things you want.
If you’d like to delve deeper into the issues of time management, prioritisation and decision making, then why not come along to our Prioritisation and Decision Making course. During this session we will cover all of the issues addressed above, as well as help you develop concrete strategies to deal with the specific challenges you face when managing your time. View the full course outline to find out more about what’s covered, or contact us with any questions and to book your place.