Why? Because people who tend to be busy, tend to be productive.
I’ve witnessed this in the workplace, with volunteerism at school, and especially in ministry. Those who lead–and lead well–tend to be very busy people. And now that we are almost into the month of May, it’s a good time to address how to handle busyness. As women, May tends to be every bit as busy as the Christmas season. Graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, summer vacation plans, etc. Women define the word “multi-tasking” during May.
Over the past several years, I’ve observed some common characteristics of highly productive, busy people. As I’ve incorporated some of their strengths into my own leadership style, I can honestly say I’m a more productive leader. I can take on more projects than most level-headed people I know, but somehow I’ve learned how to “manage” the busyness. Here are some tips to help you manage this busy season of life and learn how to be more productive in the process.
1. Set your priorities. Each day, make a list. Prioritize the things that have to be done that day and set out to accomplish as much as possible.
2. If it’s a big project, divide it into chunks. In the midst of a really crazy fall, I agreed to be the ghostwriter for a book. Writing a book doesn’t happen in a day, so I divided the chapters and gave myself deadlines. I set a realistic timeline, but I also allowed for unexpected interruptions. I was honestly shocked when I finished the book exactly on time–right before Christmas!
3. Have accountability with others. When others are expecting me to complete a project and they hold me accountable to finish, I work harder to accomplish the goal. In regards to the book, the authors who hired me, met with me on a consistent basis every two weeks. I knew there were people counting on me to be productive. Who are you accountable to?
4. Learn how to make decisions quickly and move on. I learned this years ago from a very successful businessman in my church. We served on a capital campaigns committee. During meetings, discussions or questions would come up. Instead of waiting until the meeting was over, he would find an answer or make a call right then. Before the meeting concluded, decisions were made and everyone was informed. I learned quickly why he was asked to be involved in many crucial decisions. He knew how to make decisions quickly and decisively.
5. Learn how to get people out of your office when you need to be productive. I don’t mind conversations. I don’t even mind some interruptions. But, many times, it can be difficult to end the conversation or get the offender out of your office. There have been some instances when I’ve just had to be blunt and explain that I’m in the middle of finishing a project and I need to end the conversation. If I’m sitting at my desk, I will stand and excuse myself. Even just the simple art of standing will send the message that you need to conclude the conversation.
6. Do the little things quickly. Some people will ignore emails or phone calls, putting off accomplishing simple tasks until later. The problem is that you’ll forget that you put those things aside. When someone asks you to do a simple task, just get it done and get it out of the way.
7. Don’t procrastinate, get bogged down or waste time. These three things are the greatest hindrances to productivity. Procrastination is a horrible habit. If you didn’t learn this lesson in college when you crammed for a test the night before, you probably still suffer. Don’t put off the things you can accomplish today. Do you get bogged down in a project? Are you spending too much energy and time on something that really doesn’t have great value? If you are over thinking the small things, learn how to move on. Finally, wasted time comes in many forms. Whether it’s the conversations in the hallway or the temptation to look at your Facebook, rethink #1. Keep your priorities.
Maybe you have your own tips on being more productive. I would love to hear your comments or thoughts!