Robin Hills (Director, Ei4Change) has been asked to contribute a series of bite-sized, inspirational soundbites for Bolton FM.
Featured every day for a week as The Thought that Counts, these were broadcast on the Breakfast Show and on the Lunchtime Show.
This podcast explores effective ways to work with time:
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Here are my latest contributions to my local radio station's The Thought That Counts slot, which is broadcast on the Breakfast show and the Lunchtime Show over a period of a week. Each broadcast lasts about 90 seconds. My contributions are all based around some aspect of emotional intelligence and resilience. I've put my contributions together as hints and tips in this podcast. On this occasion, my reflections explore effective ways to work with time, covering the myth of time management, managing your energy, urgent and important, prioritising your focus and the art of delegation. I hope that you enjoy the podcast and these The Thought That Counts. The Thought That Counts. Are you trying to manage your time better so that you can get more done? I'm sorry to say, but that's actually a waste of your time. If you're like most people, you've probably been trying for years to find a better way to organise everything on your list of things to do so that you can do more of it. You've been trying to find ways to work faster and smarter, all in the name of being more productive. Stand back and take the time to think about it for a moment. Time is a finite resource. You can't manage time. You can't store it up if you have too much of it, and you can't create more if you don't have enough. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage yourself and more importantly, your energy. Your energy works differently. Energy is a renewable resource, but only up to a certain point. Scheduling every minute of free time to increase productivity may seem like a good use of time, but it doesn't account for your need to replenish your energy. Some tasks also require more energy than others. High energy tasks and multitasking can't be done productively when your energy is already eaten up by a surplus of things scheduled in your day. Over time, a lack of energy can cause a dip in productivity even when there's more than enough time to get the required tasks done. Extraordinary productivity is not about time management, it's about managing your decisions, attention and energy. The Thought That Counts. When managing your energy, it's important to think about having breaks and recovery. These shouldn't be an afterthought. Instead they should be planned so that they're part of your schedule. This is important if you tend to get easily distracted by work. Whilst it's true that recovery takes up valuable time that could be otherwise used to work on tasks, it's an invaluable part of a routine for high performance. Time isn't what matters most when you're concentrating and focusing on managing your energy. Instead, your energy levels are what matter the most. When you give yourself time to rest, you replenish your energy levels and become more productive when you're back at work. You'll also improve your wellbeing and experience more pleasant, supportive emotions if you're well rested. Because of its benefits, rest and recovery can be an important part of mental fitness. Even if you're running behind on other tasks, resist the temptation to work during your scheduled recovery time. Nobody else can drink that glass of water for you, eat that sandwich for you, go to the toilet for you, exercise for you, have a nap for you. Often we're so busy sawing that we forget to sharpen the saw. The Thought That Counts. There are two important factors that are going to impact upon how we manage our energy and so how we use our time appropriately. The two factors that define any activity are urgent and important. Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention. It needs doing now. Urgent tasks press on us, insisting on our action. They're obvious and right in front of us. They can be pleasant, easy and fun to do. Often they pressurise us because they're demanded by other people. Important, on the other hand, has to do with getting results. If something is important, it contributes to your purpose, your values and your priorities. We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative and more productivity. We must act to seize opportunities to make things happen. If we don't have a clear idea of what is important, we can easily become diverted to spend all our time responding to what is urgent. So think about how you can carefully protect your time from spending too much time on urgent tasks, so that you have the energy and reserves to think creatively about what's important and increase your long term effectiveness and productivity. Just because it says urgent, it doesn't mean that it's important. The Thought That Counts. One of the best approaches to being more productive is to manage your focus - prioritising the important items, deciding what is urgent for you, and letting go of the less important work that distracts you. In other words, focus less on being efficient and focus instead on being effective. If you get really efficient at getting more done by dealing with all those urgent priorities, but you're not doing the right things, then you're not maximising your impact. You may be very efficient at responding to everyone else's needs and interests, but what about your own agenda? What about the things that are important to you and what you want to get done? How effective are you being in managing your objectives? The reality is, less is more. In order to improve the impact you have in your world, you need to say "yes" to fewer requests and "no" to far more. This means that you must be more aware of the choices you have and exercise the courage to make better choices. Saying "no" may make you feel like you're not good enough or feel uncomfortable because you will appear to make some people unhappy. But it's not up to you to make other people happy. It's up to you to maximise your impact and contribution, whether at work, at home or in your community. Remember, you need to respect and care for yourself. It's too easy to say "yes". Freedom isn't the ability to say "yes". It's the ability to say "no". The Thought that Counts. Just because something could be done doesn't mean to say it should be done. Be ruthless with filtering out those things that, if left for later, will become less and less important to do over time. Something that appears important today may appear unimportant next week. Before starting any task, ask yourself, "Who else can I get to do this?" Is there someone else who could do the task instead of you? Someone who reports to you at work? How about a peer? A colleague in another department? A service provider? An independent contractor? Your spouse? A child, etcetera? Good delegation requires a change of attitude, and there can be emotional barriers to overcome. Fear - "If they fail, I'll get the blame." Worry - "Will I lose control?" Distrust - "Are they capable of doing the task instead of me?" Envy - "Will they do it better than me?" Enjoyment - "I like this task. Why give it away?" So part of delegation requires managing your emotions. Can you teach someone to get it done so they can do it next time? Often it will be quicker to do it yourself, but spending some time teaching someone else to do a task will save you lots of time in the future. Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. Don't try and do everything yourself, because you can't. Either delegate something, dump it, or deal with it. I'm Robin Hills from EI 4 Change empowering your emotional management The Thought That Counts.