This post comes from feedback that I received from a new reader. This reader mentioned briefly that they get derailed at the office because so many things come up. Granted, there’s still a lot to find out from this short conversation but I could relate to her because I’ve been there myself for far too long.
Come into work with a plan. There’s nothing more defeating than putting out fires all morning, finally completing a project or task around 2 pm and going, “Ok, now what?” The ruffling through your project and planning our what’s next in the middle of your day only slows you down.
- Fine Tune. Do you already come into work with a plan, great! Keep that going. Maybe fine tune that plan and…
Narrow your tasks down to 3 things. You currently have so much to get done but ultimately you should have:
- The #1 item that HAS to get done today. This is the one thing that you could get fired for down the line it’s not done.
- The #1 call or email that has to be returned. It’s important to constantly keep the conversations going and this will force you to figure out who you have left to reply or answer someone’s questions.
- The weekly required item that you set for yourself to complete. If you have a weekly report, file, copy, etc to turn in, set that time aside
- Create an ideal schedule. Unless you have years of experience at setting your own schedule, I highly recommend that you create an ideal schedule that will give your day structure, especially if you a new to a salary position or have a flexible schedule. I know you’re all excited about all this new freedom that you have but if you’re not careful you end up with 2 lunches multiple times a week and replying to emails at 3 am.
Control your email. Yes, I save this for last because this is the type of advice that most don’t want to hear.
- Turn the “ghost” pop-up notifications off and check your emails every 2 hours. WHAT? It’s so that you can concentrate. You can leave the chime on for now.
- Start slowing down on how fast you return your replies to emails that require thought. Simply reply that you will get back to them and tell them when to expect an answer, but make sure to schedule it.
- Start increasing your reply to quick emails with templates within 24-48 hours. This will keep people from waiting on you and doing follow up emails.
Ask for deadline or timeframe. One of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn is to ask for deadlines or at least a timeframe. When you ask, however, it tells the person asking for the task:
- You value your time and schedule.
- Reconsider what they are asking for
- Determine just how urgent something really is