CategoryManaging Workload

Prioritizing Your Priorities

Productivity has become a huge focus for me in 2017.

Juggling multiple priorities for me is nothing new. However, as my responsibilities and team continues to grow, I have to be more organized in order to remain effective.

I also have to be more aware of how I invest my time and energy. I have to make sure the most important tasks and people get my time and attention — and that they get me when I am at my best.

This doesn’t change how many hours there are in the day. Or that despite my very best efforts, urgent situations arise and other items have to be pushed to the backburner.

When that happens, I have to adjust quickly or my productivity for the day  will be ruined.

When I have to prioritize my priorities, I ask myself 4 questions:

Where can I pass? The first thing I do is look for items I can delegate. While I would love to be involved in everything, I know I can’t. And it has become much more important to me that things get done than that I be the one to do them. Decisions we make are rarely permanent. I can always go back and fix something that the other person missed — or ask them to move the project forward so I can pick it back up later.

Where can I pause? Then next thing I do is look for items I can move lower on the list or to the following week. Usually, there are items on our to-do lists that can wait. When urgent issues arise, moving other items to a later date is a logical step.

Where can I punt? Once I have delegated and move items to later dates, I look for items I can delay for a greater period of time or permanently reassign. This is different than passing or pausing because, when you punt, you do not have intention on returning to the item for quite some time — if ever. Punting removes the item from your to-do list for 90 days or longer.

Where must I push? With items delegated, delayed and diverted, I am left with only the things I absolutely have to do. I can reset my priorities based on the deadlines and importance of those tasks.

Your time and energy are precious commodities that you only have so much of each day. Be sure you are giving it to the people and items that need it most.

If you can punt it, pause it or pass it, then it isn’t a priority. Fix your focus on the remaining things and push through!

Stop Whining And Start Winning At Work

So I wrote a post in November and caught some flack. In “How To Delegate Effectively – Part 2”, I said you should never delegate to your boss because it’s essentially whining.

But but but Buzz, sometimes I really am super busy. Just because I’m not the boss doesn’t mean I don’t have lots to do, too. You’re telling me that if I’m honest about that with my boss, I’m wrong?

Maybe I didn’t accept the assignment because I’m not interested in learning that task. Are you really saying that’s not OK? Are you telling me I can never say no? Are you telling me I just have to do whatever work my boss give me?

In a word … Yes.

Yes, you’re wrong. Yes, that really is not OK. Yes, I’m telling you that you can never say no. Yes, I’m telling you to do whatever work your boss gives you.

Yes. All the yes.

Unless you’re being asked to do something illegal, immoral or unethical, you should do what you’re asked — even if you’re really busy doing other stuff and even if the task isn’t something that especially interests you.

Here’s why:

  • All tasks have value … Whether it is some really important, highly visible project or taking out the trash, all tasks add to your learning, knowing and professional experience. That’s how you should embrace the work that is assigned to you, even if it is not something you’re especially interested in doing or learning more about. Refusing work delegated to you, no matter the reason or how politely you do it, flies in the face of this — and you’ll come off looking unappreciative and unwilling.
  • No one cares that you’re busy, especially your boss. If your boss cared that you’re busy, your boss wouldn’t have assigned the task to you … I know that’s harsh — but it’s generally true. Your boss knows the work you’re doing. And if your boss knows and is giving you more work, there’s a reason. Maybe it’s a test. Maybe it’s for learning. Maybe it’s because you’re busy but your boss is busier. Maybe your boss is a lazy, stupid, arrogant jerkface who likes to watch you suffer (because that’s what you’re really thinking). The reason is ultimately irrelevant because …
  • Not doing the tasks assigned to you is insubordinate and grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment … I know no one likes to hear that — but it is still true. I’m not sure who started the rumor that refusing assignments and talking negatively about and to your boss was acceptable and cool. It’s not and it isn’t. Doing it could get you in more trouble than you want. Don’t hurt your reputation or your livelihood by being insolent and argumentative.

 

Fine, Buzz. I get it. But if I can’t refuse the task, what can I do?

 

Try this instead:

  • Ask about the learning goal is for the task. “Hey boss, is there something specific you want me to gain from this? I just want to be sure so I know what to look out for and focus on as I’m working on this.” Understanding the objective can help you get into the spirit of the activity, even if it’s not something you love or truly want to do.
  • Ask for help setting priorities. “Hey boss, can I have about 10 minutes of your time to go over my to-do list? I could use your help setting priorities so I can be sure to meet all my deadlines.” With your boss fully aware of your work and on your side for the order in which things should be done, you’re free to attack all the tasks without worry for what might get missed.

 

Approach the tasks assigned to you with an open mind and a willing spirit. Always and in all ways.

What Will I Do After The SPHR?

On Friday, January 31st, I sit for the SPHR exam — one of the hardest professional certification exams on the planet. The exam I’ve run from for almost a decade because I hate standardized tests more than I hate peas.

And I really hate peas. Just ask my mother.

To say I am nervous about it is an understatement. But I know I’ve done everything possible to prepare and I believe I will conquer this beast on my first attempt. It will not be easy — but I will do it!

For the last 3 months, I’ve spent roughly 2 – 3 hours each day involved in some study or exam prep activity. I am amazed at how I was able to find the time considering the other demands of my life.

As I get closer and closer to my exam date, I am regularly asked What will you do with all your time after the SPHR is over?”

Admittedly, I found the question annoying at first. It’s not like I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do before I began my SPHR study! I stay busy … However, when I thought more about it, I realized this priority shift has shown me how I really can do more with my 24 hours. And I don’t want to lose that habit or the momentum it has given me.

So, here’s what I am going to do when my SPHR Exam is over …

  1. Cry … Yes, I said cry. I fully expect I will openly weep tears of joy and relief and pride when the test is over and I pass. I might even post an ugly cry video on Instagram for posterity. Stay tuned.
  2. Party … I will celebrate on Friday with my family. Then I will visit Richmond, VA to celebrate my BFF’s birthday and meetup with Melissa Fairman to toast both our passing of the exam. Then I will come home and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday with my friends and family, especially since my friend and fellow University of Richmond alum is playing in the game. Go Broncos!
  3. Watch TV … I have abused my poor DVR. It is over 70% full as I write this post! I will find some down time to relax and catch up on my favorite shows — and delete the stuff I no longer care to watch.
  4. Work … I have a busy year of projects, rollouts and new initiatives in my 9-5 job. There is never a dull moment in what I do at work. I love being an HR practitioner and my SPHR certification will be put to good use.
  5. Blog … I miss writing. I’ve been on an inconsistent schedule for too long now. I’ve missed a lot and missed out on a lot. I’m not happy about that and it must change! The things I’ve learned and refreshed thru my SPHR prep have given me lots of new content to share. Get ready get ready get ready!
  6. Speak … I will speak at several conferences this year. Up first is the Louisiana SHRM Conference in April. This will be my 3rd year straight at LASHRM; I am so honored and excited to be going again!! The speaker lineup is truly extraordinary and I recommend you get yourself to Baton Rouge for this conference if your HR budget will allow it. I am even more excited that my blog-FF crew from Performance I Create will also be there as presenters and covering social media. It is going to be a fantastic time! Chimay!! (You’ll have to ask Czarina of HR Janine Truitt what that means)
  7. Other stuff … My mind is always running with ideas on how to make a greater impact thru HR, both at the job and in my other ambitions. I will turn more of these ideas into plans and those plans into actions and those actions into accomplishments.

That’s what I’m going to do when the SPHR is over … But for now, it’s back to studying

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Fall

I am no good at waiting. I want to find the root cause of problems so I can repair it or remove it or replace it.

I have no tolerance for foolishness. Or laziness. Or any form of passive-aggressive douchebagery. I want those around me to share my enthusiasm and committment to excellence. And when they don’t, I want to repair, remove or replace them too.

That’s not to say everything has to be my way or go my way. It doesn’t. I just don’t like confusion. And I think people who claim to thrive in constant flux and uncertainty are either lying or crazy. Or both.

Because confusion doesn’t get stuff done. Confusion doesn’t move things forward. And confusion doesn’t help others grow or develop.

However, I’ve learned that not everyone shares my intolerance for waiting, foolishness or confusion. There are lots of people who are fine to just go with the flow and wait for things to work themselves out. They are fine to wait for the other shoe to fall. They are fine to just sit and watch in suspense as that pesky other shoe teeters back and forth.

I say knock the shoe over and let’s get on with things.

But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, it’s not your shoe to knock over. Sometimes, the decision is in someone else’s hands and there is absolutely nothing you can do.

You have to wait.

Waiting for the other shoe to fall isn’t easy. It’s annoying. It’s uncomfortable. It makes you feel inert and stifled.

Waiting just sucks.

But whatever the “shoe” is in your organization, there are some things you can do to make wait a little easier

  • Share concerns. You need to tell someone in authority when you see a dangling shoe. Be respectful and empathetic in your approach — but say something.
  • Don’t compromise. Just because someone else is letting their shoe dangle doesn’t mean you should. Maintain the integrity and ethics of the work within your control.
  • Find calm. Seek people, places and projects to take your mind off the dangling shoe. Everyone needs a respit. This is even more true when faced with the stress of a dangling shoe.
  • Get ready. Eventually, the shoe will fall. Have a plan for what you’re going to do when it happens so your plans and work are not derailed when it happens. Position yourself to be apart of the solution.

Waiting isn’t easy but sometimes it is unavoidable. Control and contribute what you can so the final result is something worth waiting for.

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