Achievers want to live up to what they’re capable of, dream big, and accomplish the most possible. We know the feeling. If only there was more time to get everything done… In our situation, Parkinson’s disease doesn’t help. Patrick spends hours each day being “off”. Hours where he’s stuck, and can’t progress on the things he’d love to accomplish. As a result, it’s a very big challenge to squeeze all in. We could lower our ambitions, however we don’t want to… Here’s how we address the challenge. And how you could do so too.
Tackling areas of concern
Start by identifying the areas of your (work) life where you experience frustration. You consider you spend too much or too little time on them. You could for example point to projects where you’re not satisfied with the progress made compared to the time spent. Or projects that are going through the ‘procession of Echternach’ (after 3 steps forward there always seem to be 2 steps backward).
While this exercise requires quite some reflection, it is absolutely worth the effort: the ‘overload of work’ does not remain something abstract and overwhelming, but becomes something ‘tangible’, something you can act upon.
Once you have identified these ‘areas of concern’, reflect whether and how you could melt or move the workload. Melting the workload means getting it out of the system. Moving the workload means keeping the workload in the system, but moving it to ‘a better place’.
4 ways to melt your workload
- Melt the amount.
Realize that ‘interesting’ is not the same as ‘important’. Dare to say no.
For example: eliminate ‘nice to have’ tasks that stand in the way of ‘must tasks‘; clarify what questions should not be asked to you, and who can be contacted instead.
- Melt the fat.
Make sure you continue to see the forest through the trees. Keep it simple, stupid.
For example: in a project, avoid trying to do all – focus on ‘basics’ and on ‘waw elements’ instead; put a maximum duration on the time you will spend on a task/a subject.
- Melt the trials.
For any problem, somebody has worked on it before. Stop reinventing the wheel.
For example: call in an expert to make sure you don’t turn around; for areas you consider too time consuming, ask others what methods they use to gain time.
- Melt the errors.
Lack of clarity leads to errors & rework. Get it right the first time.
For example: make sure expectations from others are crystal clear; identify recurring errors, and clarify what needs to be paid attention to next time.
4 ways to move your workload
- Move in time.
Define clear priorities. Focus narrowly for big results today.
For example: decide to postpone some projects, and communicate clearly about the advantages of this approach; prioritize your to do list using the ABC principle.
- Move together.
Avoid double work. Bundle activities.
For example: speak up early when you notice double work; identify ‘overlapping meetings’, and propose to do all in one meeting.
- Move to a machine.
Recurring tasks entail recurring thought patterns. Automate where possible.
For example: prepare standardized replies to recurring questions; automate ‘recurring decision patterns’ as much as possible.
- Move to someone else.
Use people where they have the highest value. Dare to delegate.
For example: have someone else be the ‘filter’ of incoming demands to you; reflect on the development opportunities of people working with you, and delegate in line with those.