By Stan Gordon, CEO of Franchised Food Company, the umbrella organisation encompassing the fun-treats franchises brands Cold Rock Ice Creamery, Trampoline Gelato, Pretzel World, Nutshack, Mr Whippy and Europa Coffee drive-thru.
With workloads increasing, job descriptions changing, and the lines between people’s job roles and responsibilities becoming more blurred, we seem to be getting further away from achieving the elusive work-life balance. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and find yourself constantly battling with increasing pressure to get more done in your workday, it’s time to sit down, reassess your situation, and work out how you can prioritise your tasks to make the most out of your everyday.
Pick and choose
What is it that’s most pressing? Start everyday by assessing your tasks and nominating those that are urgent. Creating a list can be really refreshing, and for some, it can be one of the best ways to kick off the working day. Whilst not every job can be defined by a ‘set’ list of responsibilities – and often the tasks you end up doing over your day will depend on a number of different factors – setting yourself up at the beginning with a few clear goals in mind will help to keep you on track for the stuff that really counts. Listing and prioritising your tasks can also help you to keep on track after distractions – maybe you had a morning full of meetings, or an unexpected deadline popped up? Use this as a tool to help keep you in check.
Turn looming deadlines into positives – keep them at the forefront of your mind by setting them at the top of your to-do list and use them as a guide to allocate your other tasks accordingly. To help you prioritise things effectively, put a due date on all of your tasks as soon as you learn of them! Even for things that don’t necessarily have set time frames, put a ‘wish list’ due date on them to ensure you’re keeping on track and ahead of schedule in case any unexpected tasks pop up. For open-ended activities, try to put a time limit on them – so that you don’t get caught up spending hours on trivial tasks. And for reminders, determine what works best for you; is it keeping details in a diary, sticking post-it notes around your office or arranging prompts from your email and calendar? Figure out a system and use it for your benefit!
As most people agree, there’s something really energising crossing things off your ‘to-do’ list; it can even be that motivating factor to keep you on task. To ensure you’re better managing your time, revisit your to-do list several times throughout the day so you can reassess your workload, and re-evaluate what needs to be done immediately, as opposed to what can be finished later. The working environment today can be very unpredictable so it is important that your to-do list can be flexible and adapt to the tasks at hand. Consider your productivity and take time to think about what you have achieved and the time frame in which you were able to do so… And use this as a guide to help you to better manage your time and complete your jobs more effectively. Similar to setting a personal best in sport, the only way you can progress is by comparing and challenging yourself!
Believe it or not, setting time for yourself will actually increase your ability to prioritise tasks, by giving you boundaries to stick to. You’re much more likely to get your work completed if you know you have to be out the door at 5.00pm. Of course, not every working day is this straightforward, but it’s a good place to begin! Sometimes all it takes is stepping away from your tasks, looking at things from the outset and ‘switching off’ to help you to reassess your work, and highlight the tasks that need to be completed in a timely manner. Scheduling time for yourself – to do something you enjoy, spend time with your family or go on holiday – can be a great way to improve your productivity, and also lessen the likelihood of burning out.