Take back control of your time: take a pause
Often, when we see or hear something, our natural inclination is to react immediately. When under pressure, the temptation to react is far greater, be that through verbal reply or an action to a task.
In a business environment, I can juggle many plates at any one time, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have historically been more of a react-then-reflect-later kind of girl. I have a constant task list running through my head and prefer to process change quickly, mentally and independently. Unfortunately, when my ability to facilitate change is tested considerably, a couple of things can happen:
- I action additional tasks as quickly as possible, without considering alternative resources
- I push myself to meet unrealistic deadlines, without considering if there is any flexibility.
Neither of these options fully utilises the resources or time within my team. Most importantly, they put additional stress upon me.
Recently, I’ve learnt the value in stepping back and taking a breath. I now (try to) ask myself a series of key questions of each task:
What is the urgency? Does this impact anyone else? Does this need to happen right now? Could I de-prioritise something else? Could someone else handle this?
Most importantly, what determines the urgency that I believe exists? By that I mean, is the deadline imposed internally, by my client or by myself?
If you, like me, ever find yourself in these situations, consider, what is the worst that could happen if these tasks are not completed, right now?
In most situations, client deadlines take a higher priority, so could you speak to your internal stakeholders and negotiate a later deadline for your internal task? Or maybe that task could be delegated to a colleague instead – why not speak to them and find out?
Give yourself the time to consider the bigger picture, rather than considering each task individually. Look at your calendar, understand the time you have available to you and share your priorities with your team members. By using all the information available, you will be able to be realistic with your time, share tasks where necessary and push back others that are less important.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Changing the habits of a lifetime isn’t easy, particularly under pressure. But next time you’re under pressure, try taking that pause and consider the options available – you might find you’re able to take back control of your time… I’m beginning to.