More than ever it seems that increasing numbers of us are overwhelmed by an ever-growing and never-ending to-do list.
Just as we seem to get some time to catch up, urgent requests pings into our inbox and yet another well-intentioned day is high-jacked. For many of us, this has become our normal state, thereby creating more urgent requests as critical tasks slip through, only to pop up again a few days later as urgent priorities.
A manager could understandably assume that the solution lies with the individual. We’d argue that whilst at one time this was true, now, the only truly effective way to escape this state of overwhelm is to deal with it at a cultural level.
Consultants might suggest 30-minute meetings and yet another tech time saver, we propose a different approach. More a change of mindset than a change of routine.
As leaders, take a step back from the organisation and explore this question:
If we were a ‘start-up’ with our existing order book, how would we design a business to delight our best customers?
This exercise rapidly helps to identify surplus resource and unimportant time-consuming activity.
Clearly identify what ‘business critical’ means for your organisation and manage time accordingly. Unless an internal meeting, report or project is indisputably ‘business critical’ don’t do it. Focus only on what will grow your business now.
We are seeing ‘overwhelmed’ workers across all organisations, from one woman consultancies to global corporations, law firms to farm shops. In every case, it turns out that they are spending inordinate amounts of time on non-business critical tasks. If you are in any doubt, scan yesterday’s inbox and identify what proportion of your emails were business critical, we’d bet it’s less than 50% and very likely nearer 20%.