Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Be Busy Constructively

By Susan Leigh

Many of us are busy. We rush from one situation to the next, crisis managing, snatching time here or there, trying to fit everything in. But how much of what we are doing is valid or constructive? How much of our time is spent repeating what we have already done, going over old ground or just putting a plug in situations until we can revisit them at a later time. Let us spend five minutes looking at ways to be busy in a constructive way and really use our time wisely.

- Write a list of everything that needs to be done. Initially it may take time, but once you get into the habit of committing everything down onto one list it becomes a useful point of reference. It is also a good discipline. It formulates the thoughts into a logical frame of mind.

- Prioritise the things on your list. There should be both work and personal items written down. Some may have time constraints like opening hours, others may have specific deadlines. Organise your list by degrees of urgency. It helps you to move more fluidly from one item to the next. And some things may drop off the list as the day progresses.

- Is everything that you are doing useful? Some things may be whimsical, which is all well and good, but if you are already overloaded could those things be done another time?

- Respond to situations rather that react. Consider the things that you are asked or expected to do. Then take time to weigh them up and think about the best approach, rather than rush in and find that you have wasted your time on doing things that are not necessary or are a duplication of previous work.

- How much of what you have on your list is there through feeling guilty? Often busy people have responsibilities like partners, family, children, business, that they feel are not given enough attention. It can be natural to feel that we have to compensate by doing extra things, spreading ourselves even thinner. Is that the best approach or would something more constructive be better, like finishing work earlier, delegating some jobs or being honest about the pressures of our situation.

- Time manage. Keep a diary and let your day be better organised. See where you need to be and work around it, allow yourself enough time, rather than always being on the last minute and rushed.

- Try to finish what you have started. Rather than do a little of several jobs all at once try to finish one job before moving onto the next. When that is not possible take the time to make notes at the front of the file, on where you are up to, what is in progress, so that when you resume the job you know exactly where you are up to. It saves a lot of time.

- Schedule breaks, food, exercise for yourself. If you become unfit, unwell, stressed then you will not be able to function properly. Our car needs to be taken for a service, have oil put in the engine and air put in the tyres from time to time. We need to be maintained too.

- Ask for help. If people are asked they are often pleased to help. Include them in your plans.

- Think simple. I remember an older colleague being asked to join the young lads from the office for a game of football. They raced up and down the pitch, expending loads of energy. He looked up and down, moved in and took possession of the ball over and over again. Sometimes keeping it simple and seeing what is needed is the best option.