In my recent article Auditing Your Time Management I said that I would write about each of the three parts of the audit procedure in turn. The three parts are:
1) Have you got too much work?
2) Are you working efficiently?
3) Have you left enough time to do the work?
So now let us look at the first of these. If you are carrying out an audit of your time management, then the question should be posed in the 1st person “Have I got too much work?”
As I have often remarked, being on top of your work leads to a hugh boost in your energy. You can’t be on top of your work if you have too much of it. So the net result is that not only do you end up overburdened, but you also lose the energy to handle it all.
In spite of the benefits of focus and energy in keeping on top of your work, many people have a great deal of resistance to admitting that they have too much work. One of the causes may be that they see it as the equivalent of admitting that they are incompetent. But also I’m convinced that the amount of work that someone does is important to their self-image. Only if they realise that they will have a far healthier source of self-image by having the success (however they define success) that energy and focus will bring them, will they start to let go of some of the work.
The fact is that humans take on work and commitments like bushes grow in my back garden. Each now and then, I have to go and prune them back.
So how do we go about auditing our work?
The most important principle is that you don’t audit tasks, you audit the projects and commitments from which those task have come.
The easiest way to do this is to enter all the tasks you are behind with into an outliner or mindmapper. If you have failed to complete the tasks in your Task Diary for four or more days (which is the signal for carrying out an audit), then your are probably going to have quite a number. Now group them together under projects, so that you end up with a hierarchy of commitments.
The next stage is to look at the projects. Your aim is to cut the number of projects you have committed yourself to so that you have time to do all of them as well as they deserve. In order to do this you need to identify exactly what your real work is. If you are self-employed this will be the work that impacts the bottom line. If you are an employee it’s the reason why your employer thinks it worthwhile paying your salary.
Of course this audit can apply just as much to your private life as to your work life. What are the projects and commitments which are going to take forward your life goal and vision?
Also bear in mind that one and the same rule applies in life and business: it’s better to concentrate as far as possible on one thing at a time. You may have loads of ideas for your business, but it’s better to focus on one of them until it’s up and running successfully, rather than disperse your focus by trying to implement too many ideas at once.
Don’t be afraid to cut your commitments ruthlessly. The harder you prune a bush, the more vigorously it will grow.
And remember - there is no point at all in going through the audit procedure if you don’t do something about the results!