The ideal life
Ideally, we are good at organizing in our calendar all the activities, projects and tasks that we have to do. Ideally, we can enjoy productive days at a good pace. We can achieve results and progress toward our goals and enjoy life at the same time. But sometimes, the workload becomes fast, extremely busy, and frantic.
What can you do in those times to achieve results and still take reasonable care of yourself? On one hand, you still want to succeed; on, the other hand, you have to manage your energy and well-being. You want to avoid the worst case scenario: getting no results and being burned out because you are overwhelmed.
I have been there often, as I have many different passions and like difficult and challenging projects.
So here are some tips to manage your productivity in busy time.
Productivity in busy time
In very busy times, you many have multiple things to do in a day, and most likely too much to do. However, you can only do one thing at a time. Multitasking is just a great illusion. The brain doesn’t work like that, despite all our efforts and claims on multitasking. Solution: focus. Select one task, and do only this one. Spend the next hour on it, achieve a real result, and then move to the next task. Have only one thing on your mental shelf at the time. Otherwise, all you’re doing is keeping your mind busy thinking about a thousand things and achieving nothing. Focus.
In busy times, it is also easy to reduce communication with others. After all, we just don’t have time. We must work, do this and do that. But this is a dangerous trap. Communicating with key stakeholders, not just your project team, will often accelerate the resolution of issues and completion of tasks. A great approach is to learn to do quick meetings. Meetings don’t have to be 1 hour or more. Learn to do a 15 minute meeting. Sometimes, even just a short 5 minute meeting will accelerate a task.
As a project manager and leader, of course, if you are busy, should try to delegate more. We all heard the logic of focusing your time on strategic task on which you add the most value. However, in busy time, this logic is incomplete. The leader is also part of the team, and his participation can make or destroy the project. You must have a great sense and appreciate of the workload of all members of your team. If you are very busy, they are probably very busy. It is pointless and bad leadership to simply push your excessive workload on them so that you can feel better. It will not achieve more results, and we will demonstrate very bad leadership. You must lead by example. Work hard and keep a positive attitude. Others will follow.
4. Sleep well
As I said before, sleep is too often disposable hero. It is a bad strategy to reduce sleep. You body need to rest. You can count the number of hours you are working, or the results you are achieving. You can work 12 hours, or be rested and achieve the same work in 8 hours. Force yourself to sleep 8 hours, and you will achieve greater overall productivity. Don’t value busyness and long hours. All you will achieve is… busyness and long hours, with in bonus burning out your our body.
5. Eat well
Along with sleeping well, eating well is very important. How can you aim at achieving top performance if you don’t take care of your body. It is not so hard to have a quick healthy meal during an extremely busy day.
6. Minimize distractions
If asked in 2014 about distractions, it is common for many to think about social media. How much time is spend on the internet using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all those distractions. However, minimizing distractions is larger than this. It should not only include new technology, but also technology that existed when you were young. After all, they say that on average people watch about 20 hours of television per week, and some more. Just imagine the impact on your workload if you bring that down by half. And imagine if you bring it down to zero. Of course, it is great to have some leisure time. But remember, we are talking here about surviving extremely busy time. So minimizing distractions should include a reduction of television time, and not just social media, for many.
7. Keep going
Don’t spend too much energy thinking about everything that must be done. Keep going, one step at a step, one task at a time. Check tasks on your to-do list and you will get there. If you spend too much time thinking, analyzing, planning and prioritizing, you be a good thinker and have no results. There is such a thing as too much planning. Or you’ll manage the high priority of the day, and what is deemed low priority today will just become the high priority of tomorrow. You have to be in motion, make progress, and be very action-oriented.
Back to normal
So that’s it. By applying in a disciplined way these tips, I am usually able to go through intensively busy time. Once the results are achieved, things will be back to normal. If not, then it is a sign that I should do a strategic review of my life activities and recalibrate. But that would be good for another discussion.
How do you manage your productivity and life in busy time? Share your tips!
Michel Dion, PMP, CPA
Founder and Developer of Project-Aria
Discover my book:
Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers: Achieve Better Results in a Dynamic World