New Year’s Resolution: Work more productively in 2014!

You have mail2As we all struggle to get back into the swing of work, we might want to think about becoming more efficient with the use of our time, especially given the mountain of emails that appears to have accumulated whilst we’ve been ‘Out of Office’!

The problem with email is that we tend to read messages indiscriminately rather than sorting out the high priority from the low priority ones. In fact, many of us are guilty of giving all emails irrespective of their importance or urgency equal weight in terms of our attention and we tend to want to get through them as fast as possible.

Why?  Well, we’ve got into bad habits, haven’t we.

That’s why.

EisenhowerFormer US President Dwight D. Eisenhower is reported to have said “The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.” Eisenhower was considered a master of time management and possessed that rare gift of being able to do everything as and when it needed to be done.

So, my New Year Resolution is to work the Eisenhower way! And I want to distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent.

So my tip is whatever the job that lands on your desk on your first week back at work, begin by breaking it down according to the Eisenhower method and then decide how to proceed (see below).

We tend to focus too strongly on the urgent and important field, on the things that have to be dealt with immediately.

Resist the temptation to do this.

Stop and ask yourself: ‘When will I deal with the things that are important, but not urgent? When will I take time to deal with important tasks before they become urgent?’

diagThis is the field for strategic, long-term decisions.

Another method of organising your time better is attributed to billionaire Warren Buffett. Make a list of everything you want to get done today.

Go on, what are you waiting for? Begin the New Year as you mean to go on.  Start with a task at the top of the list and continue only when you’ve completed it. When a task has been completed, cross it off the list.

Better late than never, although never late is better! Have a great 2014!

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