You work hard—really hard—at your job. Your workload is heavy and you are always busy. You are the first one to get to the office and the last one to leave. Work demands your full attention—and you hand it over, no questions asked. Except that it never ends. Your to-do lists roll over (and over and over), and your days play on repeat. For you, work is life and life is work.
What are you doing with your life? Don’t lose your priorities in piles of endless work. Here’s how to get it together:
1. Identify your key tasks.
Identify those few to-do items that contribute the greatest value to your work. Think your work through carefully and in advance. Talk about it with your boss and your co-workers. Identify your key tasks with absolute clarity so that you know, without the shadow of a doubt, what it is that you can do that makes the greatest contribution.
2. Stop doing low-value tasks.
Identify all those routine tasks and activities that consume so much time but which contribute little or nothing to your long-term goals at work. Delegate and outsource those tasks, one at a time. Even better, eliminate them altogether wherever possible. Reduce the amount of time that you spend in low-value, time-consuming activities. Be adamant about discontinuing to-do’s that are of little importance.
3. Take time off.
Decide today to take at least one full day off work each week during which you spend time exclusively with your family and on your personal pursuits. During this time off, absolutely refuse to do anything associated with work—do not read, make telephone calls, catch up on your emails, work on your computer or anything else. Let your brain completely recharge and rejuvenate by turning your attention to something totally separate and apart from the work you do during the week.
Then, once you are comfortable taking one day off each week, expand your time off to two days, a full weekend, every week. Next, schedule a three-day vacation away every three months and eventually, every two months. You should begin to schedule two to four weeks of vacation every year. Reorganize your life so that time off becomes a major priority.
4. Think through your activities.
Start today to pay closer attention to the things you do. Be more conscious and aware of yourself and your actions. Think carefully about what’s on your schedule before you begin. Identify your most important activities and concentrate on them single-mindedly. The very act of continually thinking through things before you begin will develop within you new habits of thought and action that will lead to ever greater levels of productivity and performance. You will be amazed at the improvements that take place in every part of your life, and they will take place far faster than you can imagine.
The more you get your time and your life under control, the more you will get done and the more enjoyable it will be. Because the more you get done, the more free time you will have. The more free time you have, the better rested you will be. The better rested you are, the more alert and productive you will be when you are working, getting even more done in less time. And the cycle continues…