There is a really funny commercial out now where a man learns of his work schedule mostly involving calling, texting and sending pictures on his phone to family members with the exception of one business meeting at 4pm… he cancels the four o’clock meeting. We laugh but then think, how much of my work day is focused on non-related business activities? What are we accomplishing that will ensure our success and the health of our organization?
Times are tough right now; people are worried about the economy, stock prices, and layoffs. It is so easy to get distracted during normal times, but difficult times weigh heavy on our mind and take up time that could be spent more productively. Think of a sports team… if the season is going well, no players are injured, no players are misbehaving and getting negative press, it becomes much easier to focus on just winning the game. The team stays focused on the goal instead of worrying about other distractions.
In business, all the players (employees) must try to avoid distractions and keep focused on the goals of the organization. Here are a few ideas:
- Time Log – Do you know where you are spending your time everyday? An effective time management technique is to pick several days and create a time log. A time log is a list of everything you do by the hour. People who complete a time log project are amazed at where they spend their time. The gap between what you think you are doing and what you actually are doing may be very large. Analyze your time log for interruptions, activities that you can delegate, and time wasting activities.
- Re-examine Objectives: You and your manager probably established goals and objectives at the beginning of the year. Those priorities may have changed with the new economic conditions facing your organization. You may be spending valuable time on activities that are no longer relevant to your company’s success. For example, your favorite project may have to be postponed until next year so you have the time to focus on what is important right now. It is a good idea to update your objectives by adding a column for what you now believe should be your new priorities.
- Discuss Expectations - Set a meeting with your manager about your priorities and get clarification and agreement on your new plans. I’ve seen many people get frustrated with how hard they are working without recognition, only to later learn they were working on the wrong things! Getting clarification on your priorities is the first step to accomplishing the most meaningful goals of your organization. If you are a manager, your next step would be to clarify expectations for everyone on your team. You and the rest of your team can now keep focused on the goal.
We have a choice, focus on the negative news of the day and take up time worrying or keep focused on the goal and take steps every day that will take you closer to success.