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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Cooper

The number 1 challenge to You as a Professional 😫

You know it already! Some of you have even told me

Every time someone joins the Facebook group, which is slowly growing 😥, one of the questions I ask is “What is the biggest change you face in your life or career at the moment?”

In fact, whenever I start to coach or mentor someone new, I ask them the same question, or slight variant depending on the situation and what kind of engagement.

And the number 1 by quite some distance is …….

TIME, or lack of it

See, you did know it already

Work colleague – “How are you today?”

You – “Ok, but I’m soooo busy!”

It’s the thing that we all struggle with, whether it’s for work or life. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

The difficultly is that we’re constantly overloaded with low level ‘things’ to do at work, it can be meetings, reports, the endless flow of emails, and by the time you’ve sifted through all these, then you only have a few minutes remaining to do the big meaty work that you really want to do, like new technology research or a strategy deck. I’ve spoken before about Parkinson’s law, where the work will expand to fill the time available, well the problem is the day to day stuff often just expands to fill the day.

There will always be too much stuff to do at work or at home, so you need to get away from the mindset of they all need to get done right away. Some can’t wait, some can, some probably don’t need to be done at all. I was talking to someone online the other day and I asked how their holiday was, they replied that they only took a couple of days off as there are so many projects ongoing that they can’t possibly take the time off. This is a not healthy or sustainable

“The company will not go out of business while you’re on holiday, enjoy the time off” – Jeremy Cooper

Unless you take action, this is going to be your life until you can retire and the CEO of the company is not going to thank you for it.

The best recommendations are to clone yourself, add an 8th day to the week (please make it a weekend), or work longer hours and sleep less

First one is my preference, other 2 are just crazy talk, especially as the last one is a sure-fire way to overwhelm, stress and a possible breakdown

But, in all seriousness my top tips for improving the amount of time you have are:

Set Priorities

Having a clear set of priorities that are specific for you gives you a guiding star when you’re working out what to focus on

Use a time management methodology

There are many around but select one and try it. These will help with focusing what to do, delegate, delete etc. Here are a couple I recommend; I personally prefer the Eisenhower

Plan important tasks/timeslots

It’s important to schedule in the important things and then fit the other stuff around them. For example, block your gym sessions in your calendar, book an hour a week to learning, book in the monthly strategy review (if these are in your priorities), then fit the rest of the work or tasks within the gaps. Remember to have breaks and don’t extend your work day, unless it’s for a short period e.g. project go live, house remodelling

Stop doing so many things at the same time

There is a methodology called work in progress (WIP) that I’ll look to cover one week, however, this is reducing the number of tasks you’re doing at the same time. WIP is generally related to teams but can be beneficial to you also. Start the task when you have time to do the task and get it completed. If you’re spinning 100 things at the same time, you’ll get overwhelmed but also you will provide the wrong expectation to others if the work is for them

Stop telling people you’re busy

Maybe this should be number 1. So many people in a work context will that they are so busy, when asked how they are. Verbalising the busy feels good and implies you’re important or being productive (you’re not). However, saying something out loud actually gives it more power and your brain then latches onto it and decides you need to be busy as that’s what you said you are. Change your vocabulary

“A person being “too busy” is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them!” – Mandy Hale

Let me know how you get on and feel free to reach out if you have any questions or topics you’d like to hear about


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