Top 5 tips: Getting more done when you are busy

How do you get more done when you are busy? Here are my top 5 tips for overcoming busyness:

1. Productivity not activity

Tuscany 2009When busyness strikes people will often leap to the nearest activity in a hope that this will help them to get through the pile. This creates activity, but destroys productivity, and it’s really productivity that you need.

This might sound obvious but it’s just as important to prioritise when you are busy as it is when you aren’t. Having prioritised you can then get through the items productively.

2. Lists are your friend

One of the key lessons of the GTD methodology is that we can waste lots of effort managing the information in our head. Making lists help you to focus your brain on getting things done rather than on managing the information.

3. Learn to skim read

You can’t read all of the information available to you – after all if you printed-out the internet it would take you 57,000 years to read it all.

There is lots of stuff that you don’t need to read all of, you just need to understand what it is saying and that is what skim reading is all about.

It’s a skill that takes a little while to become confident in, but it’s well worth developing.

4. Take “Out” times

The productivity of your work times is defined, to a greater extent, by your “out” times. If you don’t take the “out” times your productivity in the “in” times will steadily diminish until all of the extra time that you are putting in is worthless.

Exercise in your “out” times is also very important because exercise is just as important for your brain as it is for your body.

5. Say “No”

The danger when you are busy is that you are venerable to being put upon. Not everything that everybody asks you to do is important. When you are busy it can feel easier to just accept things rather than go through the hassle of challenging them. This, of course, just adds to the problem.

I do this a lot and the result is that I just dig a deeper and deeper hole for myself.

(This idea for a blog came via twitter following my What would you like me to write about? post. Please fell free to add other ideas)

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