Wherever I go I hear the same thing, “I’d love to do it, but we just don’t have enough time.”
‘It’ is anything they know is important, and could make a difference, but they are totally overwhelmed with their current tasks. The thought of something else is just too much.
So why is there such a lack of time? Here are my top 7 reasons:
- Someone else sets your agenda and fills you schedule with tasks
- You don’t know what to say ‘no’ to
- We can do so many things these days, so we do
- We want to keep an eye on everything because the world is complex and changing and we are constantly distracted
- Our physical workspaces encourage distractions
- We are more connected than ever and technology keeps the channels open
- Being generalists we tackle new things over and over and never are really proficient
These suggestions will help you wrest control of you time.
- Learn a task management method like Getting Things Done. I’d recommend getting David Allen’s book of the same name and put it into practice. Better still, get your organisation to invest in a GTD training program (addresses issues 1 and 3).
- Understand your priorities and work out how your work fits in to the big picture. If it doesn’t fit in to either the big picture or your priorities then say ‘no’ (issue 2)
- Get into a community of practice and learn how to work smarter from your peers and with your peers that already do it. Rather than try and keep up with all the changes in your discipline, share the workload. Social book-marking is one possible tool (issues 4 & 7)
- Periodically close down the communication channels. Turn off the mobile, Skype, email and then find a cafe where you can work anonymously. You’ll be amazed at how much work you’ll get done (issues 5 & 6).
Obviously this is not a comprehensive assessment of the why there is such a lack of time in organisations and what to do about it (I just don’t have the time ). But what advice would you give to someone who seems to be flat out like a lizard drinking?
[Thanks to Nancy White for a conversation this morning about this issue]