Last week, we shared five of the 10 selected tips for managing heavy workload. This is part of an attempt to help young and new supervisors and managers with a toolkit for managing work pressure.
This attempt can equally help experienced managers. The five tips that we covered last week were: Your boss comes first; prioritise work that has maximum impact; do not ignore demands from your subordinates; keep your peers happy; and delegate to offload work.
Today we will cover the remaining five tips as follows:
- Learn to negotiate deadlines: If you miss deadlines, people will lose trust in you. Do not take deadlines lightly. Be a man or woman of your word. Let people trust you as a professional to the limits of trust and you will enjoy great reward. There are a couple of practical rules that if you follow, will make you a star of deadlines. First, do not commit to deadlines that you know for sure that you cannot meet. That is like scoring an own goal before the match even starts! Learn to negotiate achievable targets including achievable deadlines. Even after you have agreed a deadline, keep checking its achievability. At any point in time when you observe with reasonable certainty that you will not make the deadline, immediately negotiate for an extension which you must now keep.
- Avoid doing other people’s work: We all do other people’s work from time to time. This could be out of sheer charity, to expedite our work that depends on them, among various other reasons. However, we need to constantly mind disturbing our own delivery due to wasting time with other people’s work and actions. We cannot be helping others at the direct expense of our core work. We need to learn the art of pushing back work that others give us unnecessarily. This also includes wasting time with people who do not respect that your time is a precious resource. There is always a big cost to pay for being unnecessarily too nice with people who do not care a single bit about your welfare. Are you prepared to pay that cost unlimitedly, or you would rather help them grow and change?
- Learn to be efficient: In addition to working hard, learn the art of working smartly. Work hard and smart. Find fast ways of doing things, clever ways of completing your tasks, short-cuts, use of innovation and technology and so on. As much as you think about what to do and how to do it, spend time to observe if you are using the optimal approach that helps you complete your work very fast and effectively. In addition avoid time wasted on long queues that go no where. In Malawi, our queues are usually static—in shops, in banking halls, processing vehicle documents, in hospitals and clinics and so on. Find clever ways to beat this biggest way of wasting time. For example, when I want to go for medical check-up, I go very early in the morning or in the evenings when there are no people. If you want to withdraw cash at the Auto-Teller Machine (ATM), discover the best dates and times when there are no queues.
- Do one thing at a time: I used to think that multi-tasking is a great way to doing more in less time. Recently, I have come across multiple research articles showing that human beings are designed for operating in a ‘serial’ fashion. Do one thing at a time – is the clear advice I get from authoritative sources. I have tested the hypothesis at a personal level and I find the advice to be sensible.
- Do not always aim for 100 percent: Learn to differentiate between work that needs 100 percent quality and that which does not need that level of completion or quality. You may need 10 more hours of effort to improve your quality from 96 percent to 100 percent. Unless you are in a fierce competition, it would be worthwhile to deliver 96 percent quality work rather than spend unlimited more time to reach 100!