By Reon Janse van Rensburg
During the past year, most of us spent more time at home than ever before. It almost seems as if we had much more free time than what we were used to, especially when considering that we did not have to spend so much time in traffic, did not have to rush from meeting to meeting and also due to the fact that our social lives have basically been put on hold and t we have spent most of our weekends in the garden or in front of a heater. Hobbies, too, have almost become a thing of the past, and we had to completely rethink how we occupy ourselves in our free time.
When it comes to work most people, however, feel they have been busier than ever before. However, it is not just the work that has become more; people’s stress levels have also skyrocketed.
With all the demands your job and personal life place on you, it is normal to feel that you are being pulled in so many directions that you don’t know what to tackle and what to leave. Even with digital tools that can automate certain aspects of our job there just does not seem to be enough hours in our day. This leads us to questioning ourselves: Are we really that bad at managing our time, or is the work culture and the expectation that employers place on employees perhaps to be blamed? In these strange times the answer will probably differ from person to person, but what is important is that you regain control over your life so that you can carry out your duties with enthusiasm.
How do I manage to regain control over my work?
- A lack of direction
It is easy to miss the bigger picture when you become overwhelmed by circumstances and the uncertainty that is currently dominating the world. It is important not to lose control because then we begin to work reactively. This makes us lose our space for reflection and we no longer see our progress.
Take time out for a while and think again about the direction you are heading in at the moment. Is that part of the bigger picture, or have you lost sight of it? What do you want to achieve with what you are busy with? If necessary, rethink and head in the right direction again.
- Prioritise work that is really important
When we are feeling really busy many of us tend to tackle all the shallow work such as to reply to every email quickly and to spend time on work that is not really a priority. We spend unnecessary time on these things and lose our focus on productive work, or work that is important.
It is also more satisfying to be engaged in work that is meaningful because it is usually accompanied by a sense of accomplishment or achievement. We don’t always feel that we have actually achieved something in a day, even though we might have spent the day in a panic to get things done. This makes one feel even busier because we believe we have not even made a dent in all the work. If instead we prioritise work and plan low-value tasks around it, we can ensure that we will have achieved something of value by the end of each day.
- Productivity driven by achievement
We live and work in a world where everything happens really fast. Admitting that you are busy has almost become a status symbol that can be used to impress. We use it to influence people because being busy means we are important. We use it with our colleagues and managers to prove that we are hardworking. We also use it on ourselves to boost our sense of value and self-worth, or just to feel important.
However, this type of achievement-driven productivity can be contagious. When we hear how busy others are, we might feel that we have to be as busy. The more we tell people how busy we are, the more we convince ourselves that it is the truth even when it might not be the case. However, we should not just be busy. We also need to know that we like what we are busy with, and we can acknowledge it. Do you only want to be busy, or do you want to work? Do you just want to be busy, or do you want to work productively on something you love?
- Saying ‘yes’ to everything and all work
Perhaps you are one of those persons who says yes to every task that comes your way, or you are one who simply can never say no to even more work piling up even though you know that you do not necessarily have the capacity for it. It can sometimes be really hard to say no, and when you do say no, it might look as if you are uncooperative or antagonistic.
We are also taught from an early age that it is good to always seize new opportunities. So, when your manager asks you to complete a task you immediately see it as an opportunity to impress management which makes it even more difficult to say no. Accepting so many extra burdens can be overwhelming, especially in the difficult times we are experiencing. To prevent yourself from taking on too many challenges or to prevent burn-out it is wise to say no if you know that you do not have the capacity for it.
- Set boundaries between your work and your personal life
Sometimes we become so occupied with work that we forget that there are other people in our lives too who make demands on us. If you are married you have a partner who also needs some of your time and attention. The same goes for children. It is especially difficult to distinguish between work and one’s personal life when you are working from home. You don’t get into your car at the end of the day and leave your PC at work. Your work and your home are all in the same place and it is all too easy to pay attention to your work after hours.
It is important to set boundaries. Just as you would get into your car, you have to get into the habit to switch your computer off and to leave the room. Lock the door until the next morning and forget about work. Your partner and children also deserve time and attention from you.
It is your responsibility to take control over your life. No one else can or will do it for you. Make sure there is balance and when things really become too hectic, it is time to ask yourself the right questions.
Six reasons why you feel too busy – https://memory.ai/timely-blog/why-you-feel-busy?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Time+Flies+%2F+Creative+Inspiration+%2F+Keep+Moving&utm_campaign=210715+Newsletter+%7C+Time+Flies