We all know someone who is always busy, yet doesn’t seem to get things done. He or she works and works but doesn’t seem to get ahead.
Or maybe we feel like that at times. There is so much to do that we just put our head down and work and hope we get through it. But rushing through tasks doesn’t help us get ahead unless we are also addressing the systems and habits around getting things done.
I noticed this recently when I started a new job. It was very fast-paced. Right from the start I found myself working to get things done and acclimate to the new culture. But the first few weeks were more than just hectic.
Because I was so used to my organizational systems at my previous employer, I didn’t take the time to set everything up. I have a very specific way to organize my calendar and email inbox. It allows me to be organized and avoid missing important emails or forget about important meetings.
I kept thinking that I would get the tasks in front of me done and then set up my organizational systems once I get ahead a little. But I wasn’t getting ahead; I was barely keeping up.
Finally I decided to take my time and set up my organizational systems. I put off the immediate tasks and worked to organize my space, my computer files, my calendar and my email inbox.
It was amazing, once I was set up, how much more efficient I was. I suddenly wasn’t just keeping up but getting ahead. Even though I took time to organize and set up my systems, this time came back to me tenfold.
This situation helped me realize how important it is to have the right systems and habits in place. With the right systems and habits we avoid being the busy person who accomplishes little and instead become highly efficient and productive.
But if we are in a new situation it isn’t just about putting in place our already-developed systems. We usually don’t have any systems to begin with! So how do get ahead in this situation?
The key is to take your time. Rushing through tasks won’t get us ahead. We have to take our time and focus on doing it right. We have to devote time to trying new things and finding new ways to get things done. We have to take the time to learn the basics and build on fundamentals.
This isn’t easy. We all have deadlines and things that need our immediate attention. We have schedules and people that count on us.
Even though it may seem like we can only work on improving our systems after we get caught up, the reality is that we have to make sure we build the right systems and habits in order to get caught up and get ahead. Then we can start leveraging the work we are doing now to better position us in the future to be successful and reach even greater goals. So don’t be afraid to take your time, it might end up paying you back in the long term!