As January draws to a close, I can sum up the start of the new year in two words: Time Management. More than any other topic that I help my clients with (and the list includes Leadership, Communication, Managing Change, Engagement, Building Teams, Coaching, Problem Solving, and Stress Management), Time Management has been numero uno so far in 2011.
My clients are diverse, including food and beverage, home furnishing, information services, non-profits, and hospitals. But they all have one thing in common: they are suffering from overload and overwhelm.
It's a dire situation. I believe it is one of the after-effects of the Great Recession. While CEOs found that they could rake in millions by slashing headcount and expecting more productivity out of the remnant workforce, HR managers are seeing the underside: stress is up, engagement and morale are down, and people are starting to fray around the edges.
The answer? Time Management. It's more than keeping a To Do list, though that simple practice is a must these days with so much overload.
If fully embraced and put into action, Time Management can have a number of benefits including:
- setting goals for the aspirations of most importance to you
- clarifying priorities in your worklife as well as your homelife
- focusing on the things that need to get done now, while not losing sight of the vitally important things for the future you desire
- reducing stress
And another benefit is that Time Management can help you to get going on things that you may tend to put off. We all procrastinate from time to time. And the overload state that so many are experiencing right now feeds this. But the danger is that habitual procrastination can actually add to your stress if you keep putting certain things off until they reach a crisis state.
So what can you do? Well, according to one of my clients, you can BEGIN* any overwhelming task right away by following these five steps:
B = Break it down: Take any overwhelming project and break it down into the component tasks.
E = Energize yourself: Is your outlook toward the project a negative one? Shift your attitude and change your self talk. Pump yourself up.
G = Go for "low hanging fruit" first: Start small and fast by doing whatever tasks you can do easily and quickly. You'll establish momentum.
I = Involve others: Could you use some help? Would the advice and input of others help you get to the goal? Ask them to join you. Don't go it alone.
N = Nibble. Now. Next: Keep on nibbling via "The Swiss Cheese Method." Adopt a "Do it now" proactive stance. And keep asking yourself "What step can I take next to keep moving on this?"
Do a quick assessment of your company. How are you and the employees in your organization doing? Are they overloaded and overwhelmed? If so, don't wait. Help them before they drown.
*A special nod of appreciation to the Ikea Operations Team for the ideas and the spirit in the BEGIN approach to overcoming procrastination and getting more done.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on January 29, 2011. For more ideas on managing time and stress, getting more done, and achieving nirvana, invite Terry to your organization.