Changing habits is hard work! When it comes to improving our personal efficiency, we usually need some kind of motivator to make it happen. Trying harder, or just doing it, rarely works. It may work for a short while, but very quickly we find ourselves slipping back into old habits.
One of the reasons we find it hard work to change a habit is because we try and change too much at once. Being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, and consequently changing nothing, is the only outcome!
One or two small changes that you can easily turn into a habit is a better recipe for improving your personal effectiveness.
What can you do?
In a recent coaching session, the manager I was working with focused on these two actions…
1. Thinking in terms of Importance and Urgency. US President Eisenhower and Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) came up with slightly different versions of this idea.
Put very simply, we spend far too much of our time doing Urgent and Important work. Doing the Urgent and Important work is often necessary, but can lead to burnout if everything you do is Urgent and Important. If this is you, ask yourself why? Is it because you are doing work that is ultimately not your responsibility, or are you consistently doing things last minute.
2. Scheduling 3 x 2 hour blocks in the Calendar each week, to focus on High Importance and Low Urgency work. This simple action allowed this manager to move out of the urgent / important quadrant, and into the Important / not urgent quadrant.
Amazingly, these two small changes had a massive impact, with the ultimate result being a feeling that he no longer felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
We are all different, and when it comes to personal efficiency, the things that have made a difference for one person, may not be effective for another. Try doing one thing differently and see what the impact is.
How can you figure out the 1 or 2 changes that will make a difference?
To figure out what to change, think about the following:
1. What is the problem? Are struggling to complete everything on time? Or is the quality of your work suffering?
2. What is your desired end state? Do you want to free up more time for yourself, or do you want to feel less swamped, and more in control of your life?
When you identify the problem, and what you really want to achieve, you can figure out what needs to change.
What one or two personal effectiveness strategies have worked for you?
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