We’re quickly clicking along into the first month of 2019 and this year, among the biggest priority on our list should be the focus on how we spend on our time.
Raise your hand if you have a history of getting caught in the cyclone of distractions day in and day out (this hand silently goes up-been there).
What’s worse than that is allowing others’ priorities to trump your own. Does this sound familiar?
“Hey, real quick, can you look at something for me?
“Can I get your help with something for a minute?”
“Sorry to interrupt but I need you to look this over for me and let me know what I’m missing”
Almost none of these requests are going to be brief, despite the interrupters intentions.
Beyond the length of time these interruptions take, they also push your mind out of your focused efforts and on a tangent that you’ll have to work your way back from, which can be difficult.
Put a few of these interruptions and accommodated requests together throughout your day and you’ve dropped your productivity exponentially. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve likely ended at least a few days out of your week by asking yourself “I was busy ALL DAY but what did I even get done today?”
What you’ll find is that most often, if people are coming to you regularly for your advice or assistance, it’s because you’re good at something, and that’s great. But most of the time, the requests could have been Googled or even attempted by the requesting party before bothering you with the interruption.
Saying yes to people who are in need of your help is gratifying and ego-boosting. You’re able to help someone else and you feel validated for having the wisdom to do so. But does it always serve your productivity or your efficiency throughout your day?
To be clear, we’re not referring to young children here, who are built to ask constant questions 🙂 We’re referring to the grown and capable in work and personal life.
Are you simply in default mode of saying ‘yes” to people? Or are you considering, first, what your priorities are at the moment and weighing them against the request to decide if you should be the one to help them right now?
Could you, instead, give them a quick response which might allow them to help themselves? If not, you could let them know that you’re working on something right now and you can set a time later in the day, on a break, or even later that week to help them, if the schedule works with theirs.
SETTING BOUNDARIES IS CRITICAL AND HEALTHY.
Saying “no” is hard for some people, and it probably makes you feel like you’re being mean. You’re not.
And it’s actually a skill that’s critical to learn if you want to improve your self respect, the respect of others, and a solid productivity record.
You’re hurting yourself and your clients, friends, coworkers and family if you’re constantly compromising your personal time or your agenda, which is laid out to help you perform throughout the day the best you can.
If you’re giving your own priorities and needs the leftovers of your energy and time, you’re going to burn out quickly, if you haven’t already. Burnout doesn’t serve you and it certainly doesn’t improve the lives around you when they’re getting a second-rate version of yourself.
Saying “no” is also liberating. It gives you back the control that has been robbed from you throughout the day after a string of mindless “yes” responses to anyone willing to ask you a question.
Creating a habit of considering priorities against requests you get throughout the day will change the way you work and improve your energy at work. It will also keep your attention focused on the projects you’re working on.
When people start to see that you’re saying “no” because of higher prioritized tasks, values or projects in your day, they’ll not only respect your choices, but they’ll also be more likely to consider whether or not they actually need to interrupt you next time. After all, until now, you’ve enabled them to come straight to you because there’s almost always a “yes” following their request.
Allow 2019 to be a time to create impact, joy, and fulfillment. You can do that by setting boundaries which will allow you to focus on your most important and most enjoyable activities and projects.
WHAT BOUNDARIES ARE MISSING IN YOUR LIFE?
Here are a few to help you get started on protecting your most precious asset (time) and creating more joy and productivity in your day:
1. Have you blocked off non-negotiable time each day to get your #1 task of the day completed?
2. What is the best use of your time today and what are the 3 main areas of focus you should dedicate that time to?
3. Are you actually respecting your time blocks (so for example, NOT checking email or social media during a blocked off segment of time that was intended for a high priority or high valued task)?
4. Are you keeping your door closed(if you’re at an office), when you require uninterrupted time?
5. Are you setting reasonable expectations regarding the time it will take to complete a task?
6. Are you letting others dictate your time and schedule?
7. Are you performing tasks that can be delegated, automated or eliminated?
8. Are you saying “yes” more than you’re saying “no” to requests on your time? (making your default answer “no” or at least, “let me get back to you on that” will be one of the most productive shifts you’ll ever make.)
Spend a little time thinking about those questions and be honest with yourself while answering them. Remember, you’re not creating boundaries to shut people out, you’re creating them to reign yourself in and produce at a higher level, which results in benefits for everyone around you.
If you’re improving in small ways, even 1% per day, think of where you’ll be even one month from now. Think of what your year will look like if you’re becoming slightly more productive, joyful, efficient and focused each day.
Last thing to consider; what’s ONE THING you can do today to help you follow through with whatever has been holding you back?