I promise you this is the best tip you’ll hear all week unless you boss has just said you’ll be fired if you don’t pull your finger out. Actually, when you’ve read my tip you might even prefer your boss as he or she is at least succinct and pithy. My advice is long-winded and a chore – but the chore is the thing.
Just pretend for a moment that this works. Starting the next morning you get to your desk, write down what you do and the exact time. Everything you do.
What do I mean by everything? EVERYTHING.
Every time you do it. Every and every. No exceptions. Yes, even “Went to Loo”. “Skived off to write CV behind boss’s back”.
If you’re thinking that’s a waste of time, yep. It is. You’ll end up with an enormous list of utter trivial nonsense – “10:19 Slammed phone down on another sodding PPI call” – but the list will be enormous. It will be far more than you expect and you will have done at least substantially more than you would normally. The time it takes to write that line down is more than made up for by how you start getting twitchy when too many minutes have gone by without doing anything.
You’ll find yourself thinking I can phone Burt, I can email Susan, I can look up that account mess. Suddenly things you’ve put off or just not got around to become these quick things you can do for your list. So you do them and guess what? They’re done.
You will go insane if you do this every day but in emergencies when you’re overwhelmed and feeling like you aren’t capable of doing the job you were hired for, adding this extra burden relieves you. It makes you concentrate on the right here and now instead of the big picture and you need that.
By the way, I cheat. I use TextExpander to pop in the date and time. You knew there’d be technology somewhere. But there doesn’t have to be. A pen will do.