We're all busy. At any one moment most of us have a ton of different tasks that need to be wrapped up before the end of the day or the end of the week.
Now most of us are capable of doing a large volume of work. Our ability is rarely the limiting factor when it comes to being productive and getting stuff done at work. Where we are typically set up to fail is by taking on or agreeing to do all the "extras". You'll see what I mean in a minute.
Here are someways you can do less at work and actually get more done. You don't have to do them all to see benefits. Choose one or two to start with and see how you go.
5 areas where we can do less
- Attend fewer meetings
I'm sure it isn't news to you that most meetings are a grand waste of time. Most meeting requests are sent to attendees who are not really required. If you feel that way yourself speak up. Ask the meeting coordinator if you're essential to the meeting. If yes, ask what specifically they need you for. This allows you to be well prepared so you can keep the meeting moving along and hopefully it won't take all day. Also, I would set a personal rule to never join a meeting that doesn't have an agenda.
- Don't do busy work
There is a tendency for us to get caught up in busy work. Making presentations "pretty", re-organizing spreadsheets, formatting and doing work that has very little value or impact on your role as a whole. Question what you do. Why are you doing this? Is it essential? Will it make a difference? Does anybody care?
- Cut out distractions
Distractions include the obvious electronic distractions such as email, the Internet, instant messaging, text messages, voice mail, etc... but it also includes some not so obvious sources. Other distractions can be co-workers walking past your desk and going to the lunch room for coffee every 30 minutes. Try wearing headphones (whether you listen to music or not is up to you ... your coworkers will never know) and limiting the number of times you get up from your desk to get coffee, tea or water.
- Say no
Taking on more and more work may feed well into your super-human ego but it's not possible to do everything for everyone. The more work you take on the more stress you pile on and the less effective you are at doing things well. Saying no doesn't mean you're incompetent, not willing or unable to do the work. Saying no means that you are well aware of your current commitments and want to give them the attention and dedication they deserve.
- Set realistic expectations
If you do take on a new project or task be realistic with the time it'll take to complete it. If being realistic causes your manager or co-worker to take it off your plate because it needs to be addressed sooner then so be it. Another option is to say yes along with setting the expectation that the rest of your work will be delayed.
In what other areas can you do less to get more done?