One of the best known brands of the last couple of decades has to be NIKE along with the associated “JUST DO IT” slogan invented at an ad agency meeting in 1988. The slogan contributed to Nike increasing its share of the domestic sport-shoe business from 18% to 43% between 1988 and 1998 and it is often used in any situation where people want to demonstrate a sense of urgency, commitment and action.
Based on work I’ve been doing recently, there seems to be a strong case for reminding people that it’s not always wise or helpful to “just do it” and that in order to get back control over their time at work, they need to do more planning. There are various statistics relating to how people spend their time at work, for example...
- 60% or less work time is spent productively
- The average employee checks their email 36 times an hour and faces 56 interruptions a day
- The average employee spends 3 minutes on a task before switching to something else
- We spend two hours recovering from these and other distractions during the day
Whether or not these statistics are true for you, people do seem to agree that they don’t have enough time to focus on getting “real” work done, which results in frustration, stress and a general feeling of dissatisfaction – even before the difficult conversation with the boss happens. There are many ways to take back control and differentiate between the activities that really do need to be done now as well as those that should be stopped or delegated so you can work on the important activities i.e. the ones that pave the way for future success (see Stephen Covey’s work on Urgent v Important). Quite often it’s just a case of taking time out to refocus with the help of someone who can challenge and support you. These tips might also help:
- Set up a weekly review with yourself. A good time to do this is on a Friday when you can review what you finished in the week, and what you want to get done the following week. If you need to, book a conference room for your meeting and treat the time booked with the same respect that you would for an external visitor or your boss.
- Keep a to-do list. This needs to be written in one visible and accessible place at the beginning of each day or week. When you have a moment look at your list and work on an item rather than checking email.
- Take control of your in box. Switch off instant alerts if necessary and allocate a time when you will check your email. When you work on one of your important tasks, try to give yourself an hour at least of uninterrupted time to complete it.
By the way, I’m pleased to say that “write blog” was on my list of 3 things to do today, so I am on track for the week so far!