One of the biggest mistakes we make with any sort of work is launching into it without taking the time to think about what it is we need to do.
We believe that it is a waste of time thinking about the day as a whole, we just want to get the jobs done. Whilst getting started on a job as quickly as possible might seem to be the best way to get it completed, stopping to take the time to assess the tasks required, prioritise the important ones and making a plan of action will actually result in a better outcome all round.
This is where managing your to do list can really help. Before you begin your work, take time to write down exactly what you want to have achieved by the end of the day. Your to do list might have a large number of things on it but you only want to choose those that you can reasonably expect to complete before you leave for home. Never underestimate the positive benefits of a completed to do list. Of course there will always be things left to complete, that’s the reality of any job, but if you have completed today’s specific tasks you can go home feeling mentally light.
It’s also important to consider whether the tasks we are completing are important or whether they are urgent or both. One of the reasons we can sometimes get to the end of the day and feel as if we haven’t achieved anything is because we are constantly being pulled away from the important work to manage the other people’s ‘urgent’ problems that come up throughout the day.
A friend of mine struggled with this very issue. She was constantly being asked by co-workers to assist them with an issue they were having. Being the caring person that she was, she would stop her own work to help them out.
That was all well and good but then she would find that at the end of the official work day everyone else would pack up and go home and she would be required to stay late so that she could finish her own work. After much soul searching she realised that something would have to change.
She struggled to say no to any request and still didn’t feel that she could do that so she instead began to defer her assistance. Instead of jumping up right away when asked, she would respond to requests with a ‘Yes, I will help you but after I have finished this ….’ type of comment. She discovered that this simple act often resulted in the person going away and finding a solution for themselves.
So next time you find that you are achieving less than you would like at work keep these two ideas in mind.
1) Prioritise your to do list
2) Realise that your work is just as important as any else’s and make yourself a priority