Ask anyone if they feel their work life is complex and in some ways getting out of control and you will most likely hear a quick and resounding “Yes! Absolutely!” The challenges of keeping up in an ever changing environment, coupled with the drive of many companies to do more with less, results in greater expectations being placed on team members to contribute and deliver more than ever before. While the answer to this challenging situation is not the same for everyone, there are some practical things you can start today to help bring a sense of control back to your work life and simplify. Everyone, starting today, can put the following three steps into place.
1. Streamline. We have organizational tools and systems of all kinds. While one size does not fit all, it is important to have a system that works for you and to streamline that system as much as possible. Over the years, I have tried many approaches to managing my work life from paper agenda systems to electronic calendars and task managers. While all have their pros and cons, I find it’s important to use a system that gives you the greatest ability to visualize, prioritize, and adapt your schedule and goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most systems today will allow integration of your messaging and calendaring system across all of your devices. As an Apple user, I am able to integrate across my phone, iPad, and computer to give access to all of my information regardless of the device. Thinking through what you want to accomplish and then designing a system that accomplishes those objectives on the front end will eliminate challenges down the road and keep you productive from the start. Recently, in looking to bring all these best practices together, I've created the Life Leadership Success System. More to come on this very soon...
2. Learn to say “No.” We have all heard this but it remains one of the greatest challenges for folks. We don’t want to disappoint. We want to exceed expectations. So, in the interest of trying to help others, we often stretch ourselves too thin. In a spirit of helpfulness and support, however, it’s not enough to just say “no.” When approached by a colleague who needs help where I am either not the best to lend a hand or I am overcommitted as it is, I will sit down with the person and say something like… “I would love to help but I’m just not able to commit to this right now. Let’s think together through some other options. Who else do you think could help you with this?” By taking this approach you are helping to bring a solution to the need rather than taking the responsibility on yourself.
3. Don’t Delay. Procrastination is often at the root of much of our work life challenges. There may not be a conscious choice to delay but we fall prey to trying to do too many things at once and, ultimately, accomplish nothing. There are three behaviors you can change today to begin to avoid the delay trap. First, take time at the end of each day to list your accomplishments for the day and those things you did not complete. You can then prioritize those areas that are still to be completed and have a general idea of the focus for the next day. The next morning, go back to this list, make any adjustments necessary, and prioritize these in order of importance. Once complete… jump in by starting to work on the highest priority goal for the day first. Second, don’t over think or over plan… Just do it! In my book RESET: Reformatting Your Purpose for Tomorrow’s World, I present the concept of The Law of Diminishing Intent, which states the longer we wait to do something, the less likely it will be that we will actually do it. Put into practice, the longer we wait in the day to start that high priority goal, the less likely it will be that we will start it—let alone accomplish it. You can start today by recognizing when the Law of Diminishing Intent is rearing its head and choose action over delay. Third, accept responsibility for your actions. Every one of us has the same amount of time each day. Those who are successful accept responsibility for every minute and recognize they have the ability to choose (to a large extent) how they are spending those moments. Others make excuses and put ownership elsewhere. Keep the mindset of accepting the responsibility for all your actions and the decisions you make in where you invest your time.
While the work environment is not likely to become less complex, we can certainly take steps to help simplify our work life. By applying these three essential steps today, you too can begin to experience greater balance in your work life and success overall.
Live. Love. Lead. Leave a Legacy!
Dr. Jason Brooks