Time management is meant to help you become more efficient and boost your productivity. However, it may also end up increasing the stress you face instead of reducing it if you simply turn around and fill the space you’ve made in your schedule with even more tasks and even more pressure.
Productivity is important. But to avoid burnout, you need to focus on eliminating volume instead of accommodating it.
Reduce the volume of tasks. When you agree to perform a task, it begins to create the pressure to deliver. If you have to break or renegotiate the agreement, you add the additional stress of a challenging conversation and the guilt of letting someone down. Avoid some of that stress by reducing the volume of tasks.
For tasks that are assigned to you, think in terms of priorities rather than time. Consider asking: “Where would you like me to prioritize this against x, y and z?”
For tasks you are considering adding on yourself, calendar-block first—blocking time on your calendar for everything on your to-do list so you can get a complete view of the commitments you’ve already made and your real capacity.
Replace decisions with principles. Continually facing decisions with important consequences and imperfect information can lead to cognitive overload. Reduce the load by replacing decisions with absolute principles—for example, not checking emails during lunch or after a set time, say 6 p.m.
Use structure, not will power, to minimize distractions. Some examples: Have a set period during the day when you go offline to focus. Leave 10-minute gaps between meetings for reflection and transition.
Source: “Time Management Won’t Save You,” Harvard Business Review, June 23, 2021
Work from home has left many of us working longer hours as we struggle to maintain work-life boundaries. These extended work hours can actually reduce productivity and quality of decision-making while decreasing overall job satisfaction.
Here are some steps to help you get back on track.
Set a clear time to start and end your day. Let others know that you will be offline during your non-working hours and to only call for a true emergency.
At the end of your day, leave your work behind. If your work phone or laptop is also your personal phone or laptop, turn off email alerts for your work account after hours so you notice see the emails or pings coming in.
Be mindful of other people’s boundaries.If you need to set a call before or after their working hours, include a note explaining why it’s necessary. If you send an off-hours email, either delay the delivery until the next morning or note in the subject line that no response is expected until the next day. If you need a response back that evening because it is a true emergency, call the person to let them know.
Source: “6 Ways to Set Healthy Work-life Boundaries,” Thrive Global, May 27, 2021