Busyness has become a luxury and a status symbol in today’s fast evolving world. But while it makes us feel important and validated, not being able to turn off our “work mode” can more often than not, backfire. While we might think that it would impress our bosses, poor time management and decisions can only pull down a career.
A century ago, you might be surprised to know that many bright minds were worried that with the technologies of the future, people would have too much time on their hands and that we would not be able to know what to do about it. British economist John Maynard Keynes during the 30’s even wrote that man, with nothing else to do with his time, would need to work at the very least, three hours a day just in order to be satisfied with life. Fast forward today, and none of those predictions seem to have come true.
Nowadays, all of us seem to be running around, flitting through life, and always trying to “find the time”. More so for working parents, who not only have to divide their day with their work tasks but also with the responsibilities of child-rearing. And technology, a boon for society, is starting to feel more like shackles, with its never-ending beeping and buzzing, eating out more of our precious time.
While we might feel that being busy is just a normal everyday thing, studies have shown that stress is commonly caused by lack of time management skills. The feeling of being overwhelmed with too much to do and not having the time to do it is indeed stressful. This is caused by procrastinating, or by not prioritizing tasks and inevitably led to missed deadlines and targets. A repetitive cycle of this can lead not only to poor performance but also to health problems. While many of us can shrug off the stress, it can be a very serious matter that prompted Dublin’s State Claims Agency and Health Safety Authority to launch a website and info drive that urge employers to be alert for work situations that can cause problems in coping with everyday demands. In their studies, most at risk are employees from the education, health, public administration, transport, finance, and information and communication sectors.
Here are three ways on how to disentangle from the death traps of “chronic busyness”:
While it might seem delusional to think that we can tone down and just do one task at a time, we can consciously try to focus our attention to one task without having to switch to the 99 others waiting. Setting a time schedule can actually help. Divide and allocate time for all the tasks that need to be accomplished, try to prioritize what is the most urgent, and what can be put off until the most urgent ones are done– much like a how emergency rooms function under triage systems. Don’t try to push what you haven’t finished. If the time is up, schedule it to another time, and move on to the next task on the list. Last minute tasks might throw a dent on the schedule, but a little shift of things can sometimes do the trick.
Stop being a pushover
Productivity is about knowing how to prioritize. Try to assess how your typical day goes and try to find what have become passive habits that make you lose your focus. Have you, along the way, taken on more tasks than you can handle? Then ask yourself why? By identifying these habits that make you go autopilot and take on more than you can handle, you become more aware of what behavior is actually wasting away your time, and actually do something to stop it.
Learn to say no
While sometimes it might seem like saying “yes” is the only way to get to where we want to be career-wise, there are just as many more moments to decline and say no, especially if it was never really your intention to accept the added responsibility in the first place. We should be able to say no when you are going beyond your ability to even finish what you are already responsible for, or when it doesn’t work for your long term and short term goals and it doesn’t accomplish any key goals that you have set, or if it conflicts with your values.
In essence, when we look at closely how our day goes, it is not usually our work, or our emails, or our schedules that is stressing us out. Most of the time, a little effort in being mindful of how we manage our time can do wonders to our never-ending rat race.
Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer and entrepreneur and who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more.
Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace
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