Time management – don’t work harder, stop instead

We’re all under pressure to not only deliver more, but to develop ourselves and our business, keep up to date with technology, consumer demands and legislation and motivate others to do the same.

Stopping may seem counter-intuitive, but perpetuating the hamster wheel of ‘do, do, do’ reduces creative thinking. It affects team relationships and morale and leads to a feeling of ‘we’re not getting anywhere’. At it’s worst it can lead to overwhelm and low productivity, despite the desire to get things done. 

Weekly Personal Review

Put time aside for a weekly personal review and you will find it hugely beneficial.  Do this for yourself and encourage your team to adopt this practice too.

Review frequently and you will meet the need for recognition and structure. We all have 3 needs to be met – recognition, structure and belonging (TA Today, Ian Stewart and Vann Joines).

Recognition develops from acknowledging what happened in the past week.   Although self-generated, it’s equally as valuable as external recognition. It will make you and your team more resilient and motivated.

Structure is achieved through developing the habit of reflection, which creates clarity and focus. Instead of constantly running on half empty, structure provides the opportunity to top up your resources.

Great performance is more than just tasks completed

Using a visual key, helps to categorise review, recognising more than just the ‘to do’s’

An ideal review celebrates not only what has been ticked off the ‘to do’ list, it includes achievements, learning and the ‘warmer’ stuff.  For example, this week I included the enjoyment of spending an evening with my son who has recently left home for Uni.  To me, that’s part of having a healthy, balanced life.

A visual review ‘key’ will encourage the inclusion of more than tasks ticked off.  The key can be adapted to each individual. An effective, rounded performance isn’t about outcome alone, it also focuses upon how it was achieved. Learning, achievement and the ‘warm’ stuff contributes to the ‘how’. This is what evolves you as an individual and is as important to acknowledge.

Refer to diaries etc. to remind yourself what happened, it’s surprisingly easy to forget – even the little things are important.  Make a note as things happen. For instance, a great, productive conversation with a prospective client, or a colleague.

Priorities for the coming week come into focus

As you review, priorities for the following week will come into focus. As well as what will be carried forward – items to make note of which aren’t an immediate priority.

In this example, priorities are broken into themes:

  • Tasks,
  • Research & Learning,
  • Marketing/Social Media,
  • Business Development & Relationships,
  • Accounts,
  • Other.  

Adapt these to suit the work you do.

Headings break priorities into themes. Review uses a key. Future considerations are carried forward. Can be typed, hand-written, or completed on suitable app.

Make it a habit

Make it a habit to carry out the review, at the end or beginning of each week and meet that need for beneficial structure.

  • Review using visual key.
  • Priorities for the following week are naturally flagged. 
  • Note these as they occur, using the ‘Priorities’ headings. 
  • Move backwards and forwards between Review and Priorities until everything is captured. 
  • Hand-write, type, or note in a suitable app, whichever method works for you.
  • Make notes throughout the week as tasks are completed.
  • Note follow up actions for the next week and achievements, learning and ‘warm’ stuff as it happens.

What has been achieved is acknowledged and what needs to be done is captured, ready to be focused upon again on Monday (or whichever day you consider to be the start of your week).

An additional column for noting completion, or further actions is helpful, it’s a place to note priorities and items for review for the following week.

Are you focusing upon what’s really important?

Do your priorities link back clearly to your objectives?

Ideally objectives are developed in line with strategy. By checking that your priorities are delivering your objectives, you’re checking your work is in line with strategy, or business aims.

If priorities are skewed away from objectives, either you need to re-focus your tasks, or review your objectives.  Environment, economy, competition, people and consumer demands change so quickly, good practice is therefore to review objectives quarterly.   Have you learned, or has something new emerged since agreeing the original objectives, if this is the case an adjustment is needed to re-align.

Regular review will evolve you, your team and your business

In a busy world which demands outcomes and achievements, it can seem counter-intuitive to take time out to stop and review.  However, it’s an essential factor in evolving yourself and your business – it’s how we learn and apply our learning. 

Consider allocating a slice of time each week to review and prioritise.  I guarantee it will make you more efficient.

Lyn is an experienced facilitator and leadership skills trainer, with over 20 years experience. She helps teams to celebrate their successes and create clarity around their future vision with the Team Pause. Contact her to find out how this will benefit your team: lyn@evolveyou.co.uk or 07950 914328

2 thoughts on “Time management – don’t work harder, stop instead”

  1. That’s a great blog Lyn. I love the structure of the “to do” list to get balance to the week and suggested review method. I’m going to rethink my end of week review and planning time 😀

    1. Hi Catherine, thanks for taking the time to comment. It really is useful to build some appreciation into your week, which is what the review achieves. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!

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