Take one busy summer afternoon at work. Question after question, issue after issue. Someone comes with a request to join a quick meeting, right away. And there’s the need to return an urgent call.
All while you’re trying to think about an important proposal that you need to submit tomorrow.
What do you do when you’re swamped in the petty stuff?
This is a classic time management issue that we’re all facing. “Time thieves” is one of the first time management concepts ever invented. And still, we’re all complaining that we’ve got too many of them, and we don’t find the TIME to focus on what matters.
Ingredients for a cocktail to kill Time Thieves:
Take one spoon of focus – be clear on what needs to be done. Write it down. Put it on your desk if you think you’ll forget too soon. It needs to be one or two big and important things. Covey calls them the “big rocks”.
Then, take one teaspoon of innovation.
Figure out what you can do differently, in order to save time. Don’t suppose that, just because other people have done it the same way, it should stay like that.
There’s a story of a little girl who asks her mama why she cuts the head and the tail of the fish when she fries it in the pan. Mama answers “I don’t know. My mama also used to do it this way.” The little girl asks her grandmother why she used to cut the head and the tail – and the answer is the same, that she saw it done that way. Then the little girl rushes to her great-grand-mother (fortunately she was still alive) and the answer is “because my frying pan was too small and the fish wouldn’t fit otherwise.”
Take one pinch of questioning.
Do you need to be in that meeting? Do you really need to do that project? What would happen if you didn’t?
There’s a joke about the Lion King who’s very furious and goes around the forest with his black list, killing the animals. He goes to the Bear, telling him he has to die. The Bear begs for a few more minutes, to say good bye to his family…and then goes with the Lion. The next is the Wolf. The Wolf also begs for a day or two, to put his business in order and write his will. And finally, the Lion gets to the Rabbit. And the Rabbit asks “Can you cross me off the list?” “Well, sure” says the Lion, and erases him out.
Pour some delegation – but careful, don’t overdo it!
Delegation is not the solution for time thieves – instead of eliminating overwork, you’re just passing it over. And you know what? Instead of one person stressed, you will have two.
Finally, sprinkle a bit of the word “NO” on the edges of your cocktail glass.
Just say “No”. “I’m sorry, I would really like to help, but I can’t.” “I’ll help in 2 hours.” “I’ll come by your desk later.”
“Not now, please.”
There now, doesn’t the cocktail look really tasty?