Doing it Right
Sometimes we need to approach things with a bit of attitude in order to get things done, and do them well. We recommend being BOLD: have balance, organize your time, let things go, and learn to delegate.
In this lesson, we will explore each aspect of being BOLD to get your life under control. You will then apply your knowledge to a case study and help another friend in trouble: Sheila the new supervisor.
Being Brave and BOLD
Do you spend a lot of time looking for things? Productivity research tells us that the average person spends about 10% of the day looking for things. If that were so, you could gain 5 weeks a year just by getting your retrieval methods under control! If you tend to keep good track of things at work, consider things at home. Do you have a place for your keys, glasses, or lunch bags? Do you ever find yourself searching for things in the morning right before you leave for work? How long does it take you to find a particular file on your computer? (This is often one of the worst time suckers out there today!)
Sometimes you just need to handle the little things that reduce concentration and cause anxiety, like the clutter on your desk and the incomplete jobs. This is the opposite of prioritizing. Do the quick and dirty tasks NOW, even if you just do them for 5 minutes a day for the next two weeks. The crises in our lives are often the result of not handling the little things or not reacting to a niggling feeling that something is wrong. Ignore the little toothache and you wind up with a root canal.
While we talk a lot about balance, if we could accept the fact that each day is not going to be perfectly balanced, we’d probably be a lot more content with our work. Some days there will be nothing but fires to put out, but this can be balanced with days that are quieter and the phone isn’t jangling off the hook. Balance can also come from setting your work aside and going for a brisk walk at lunch, or phoning someone that you care about. Achieving balance is not necessarily about spending equal time on the things you like versus what you don’t like: it can be about the value of things. A big smile and a quick lunch with someone can balance out a morning spent in a frustrating meeting.
Organize Your Time
If you are receiving tasks and assignments by e-mail, or your boss delegates assignments to you, make sure you organize these incoming items immediately. If something will take more than 30 minutes to complete, schedule it in your calendar and prioritize the items there. If the task will take less than 30 minutes, try to get it done right away so that you are not procrastinating over it, or don’t forget that it needs doing.
Let Things Go
There is a rule we often follow at home that says if you have not used an item of clothing or kitchen gadget for a year, get rid of it. We need to apply the same thing to work: when you no longer need things, get rid of them. It’s rare that we actually get rid of things we need, but if we do, it’s not likely to be the end of the world. You can replace it if you need to.
If you are someone that has a hard time throwing things out, put them into storage first, and then set up an archiving date within 12 months so that they move from storage (which is usually very expensive) to the shredder or rubbish bin.
If you are going through a stack of paper or items, start out with three piles, and act on them quickly. Sort them into piles to: shred, store, or dump in the garbage.
Don’t waste your time doing things that somebody else can do, especially if they can do them better than you. Save your time for those things which you are uniquely qualified to do. In addition to easing up your workload, delegation helps your staff to learn new things and to take risks where they have you there for back up if needed.
Delegating does not mean that you “give away” work completely. As the owner of a task, you must remember that you are ultimately responsible for the results that are achieved.
If you are not in a leadership position, you may be thinking that you don’t have anyone that you can delegate to, but that’s often not the case. In many work teams, we can delegate laterally to a colleague who has a particular expertise, who is looking for some skill development, or simply has some extra time.
You must find ways to delegate, no matter what your position is. Learn to clearly define who is to do what and let them show you that they can do it. Make sure your communication is clear so that they know what your expectations are and any limitations of the assignment (i.e. budget, time frames, or other resources).
There are five steps to the delegation process:
The Story about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got mad about it because it was Everybody’s job. Everyone thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody blamed Anybody.