I’m as guilty as the next person for working long hours. However, I’ve learned to recalibrate whenever I begin to slip into that mode. I’ve learned a few good tips from others that help with that calibration.
Quality not quantity: I once worked with someone who liked to brag about all the hours they worked. Unfortunately, the person seldom completed assignments and she certainly wasn’t giving more than 100 percent. That’s always stuck with me. I try to deliver quality. When I need to focus I close my office door. If you don’t have an office door, stick a note on your cube that you can’t be disturbed or put on headphones (even if you aren’t listening to anything). For me, the act of closing myself off focuses me to concentrate on the task at hand. With concentration I can deliver a good product in a few hours, rather than taking 10 hours.
First Things First: Each evening before I leave, I note the one assignment I must complete the next day. Ideally, I start my day working on it, although sometimes, I confess, I get sucked into my emails immediately. When I stay focused on my priority, I feel better, in part, because the completion of the assignment usually means I’ve advanced a strategic initiative. Once it’s completed, I move onto other tasks on my ongoing list.
Five Days: A work week has five days, yet I often try to cram all of my meetings onto Monday. Once I started thinking about a 40-hour week and not an 8-hour day, I was able to make the calendar work for me. I space out meetings so that I have time following each meeting to provide the follow-up I agreed to and to type up notes.
Take Vacation: At some point, we all need an infusion of energy. In college, breaks were built into the academic calendar but that doesn’t happen in the work world. Sure, there is a day here and there for a holiday, but I’m talking about a week, or at least a few days, away from the office. In December, I plan out my days for the coming year. I like to provide myself a break every three months. I may alter the days some but just knowing I have time off scheduled makes it easier to plow throw the work.
What are your tips to prioritize your work?