30 September 2020

Being busy is more about having the wrong priorities than not having time. Here are five golden rules on making the most of your day

2:00 Min

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our workday has extended by over 48 minutes on average, and the sudden shift to smart working is challenging how we prioritise, communicate and coordinate, often leading to unnecessary stress.

1 Assess the added value

Before diving into a task, it’s a good idea to determine its importance. When lots of projects with looming deadlines fill up your inbox, ask yourself how this project impacts the business. Try evaluating how the task affects team members, customers, and business partners. Tasks with the most significant impact should rise to the top of your to-do list. To help you distinguish tasks into categories, try out the Action Priority Matrix tool to guide your process.

2 Decide important vs. urgent

The next step is to determine whether the task is important or urgent. Dubbed the “Eisenhower principle,” this approach comes from Dwight Eisenhower, former military commander and president of the United States. “Important” things bring overall value to a company, either today or in the future. “Urgent” projects are immediate actions that sustain the viability of the day-to-day business. Categorisation based on importance vs. urgency can help you strategically rank tasks.

3 Group activities

Now that you have a list of the highest impact and urgent tasks, take a bird’s eye view of all the projects on the table. Within each matrix quadrant, group together activities that can be done at the same time. This will paint a clearer picture of how you can gauge your time to prioritise your day, week, month, or even year.

4 Check your capacity and utilise your “peak” time

A recent survey by Prodoscore, an employee visibility software, showed a jump in productivity levels by 47 percent in 2020 alone. The study also revealed certain “peak” hours in smart working environments where people were most alert and productive. Identify your most productive hours, prioritising your highest value-added and urgent tasks in those timeframes. Take the peak performance quiz to find out when you are most productive.

5 Learn to say “no”

Importantly, learn to say “no” to avoid missing deadlines and unsatisfactory results. It’s also important to maintain open and honest communication with your team and leader to avoid failing expectations. Follow our tips here on how to say “no” professionally and guilt-free in the workplace.