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5 Things to beg your boss for this week

5 Things to beg your boss for this week

Unless you’re one of the nomads who has broken free of every attachment to the office but an internet connection, this short talk from 37 Signals’ Jason Fried will resonate with you.

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It’s great for managers to hear that they should minimize meetings, hire people they really trust to do great work, and work to empower instead of frustrate.

But what can you do as an employee to make a difference at your workplace? Request one of the following to start.

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1. Extended lunchesYou’re probably eating lunch at your desk these days so this will be a game-changer. Ask for a 2 hour lunch and make it a working lunch. Get out, stretch your legs, and settle into a quiet place for a solid hour of uninterrupted work time. You’ll kick yourself for not asking sooner!

2. Meeting agendas – If a meeting doesn’t have an agenda, you can argue that you won’t be able to prepare properly and won’t be able to bring your best contribution. In reality, agenda-less meetings tend to be a huge waste of time and using the “I want to give my best” argument is your quickest ticket back to productivity.

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3. To be excused – If the portions of a conversation relevant to you have been covered in a meeting, excuse yourself. Being in-demand is a huge asset and so long as you’re gracious and apologetic, you’ll get away with murder so long as you’re outproducing the people who stay for entire meetings.

Note: Perhaps that’s the key to anything like this? If you’re making the requests but not following up with a boost in productivity, you’re just spoiling things for others. On the flipside, if you put the work in and set a precedent for a more flexible view of scheduling based on your results, that’s good for everybody.

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4. For more work – If you’re getting more work done because of the changes you’ve made in your process, ask for more work. You’re ringing the cash register now!

5. For objective feedback – While being free of meetings and running around outside the office might improve your short-term productivity, make sure it doesn’t affect the long-term quality of your work. Especially for creative types, it’s important to get quality interaction with different perspectives and process-driven types who force you to think in new ways and try new things.

If you’re not getting face time at the office and chit-chatting at meetings, you’ll need to put the time in other places to stay on the same page with coworkers. Make sure your manager knows you care about making that happen and that you want her help and feedback on how you’re doing.

What else could you ask your boss for that I haven’t listed?

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Seth Simonds

Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

Do you know that prioritization is an art? It is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you.

By prioritization, I’m not talking so much about assigning tasks, but deciding which will take chronological priority in your day—figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave to last.

Effective Prioritization

There are two approaches to “prioritizing” the tasks in your to-do list that I see fairly often:

Approach #1 Tackling the Biggest Tasks First and Getting Them out of the Way

The idea is that by tackling them first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method.[1]

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Approach #2 Tackling the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily, with Minimal Effort

Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness.

If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

Figure out Your Approach for Prioritization

My own approach is perhaps a mixture of the two.

I’ll write out my daily task list and draw little priority stars next to the three items I need to get done that day. They don’t need to be big tasks, but nine times out of ten, they are.

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Smaller tasks are rarely important enough to warrant a star in the first place; I can always get away without even checking my inbox until the next day if I’m swamped, and the people who need to get in touch with me super quickly know how.

But I’m not recommending my system of prioritization to you. I’m also not saying that mine is better than Leo’s Big Rocks method, and I’m not saying it’s better than the “if it can be done quickly, do it first” method either.

The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies very much on you and the way you work. Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus on and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed (personally, I recommend the Mark All As Read button—I use it most days!).

I’m in between, because my own patterns can be all over the place. Some days I will be ready to rip into massive projects at 7AM. Other times I’ll feel the need to zero every inbox I have and clean up the papers on my desk before I can focus on anything serious. I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at 11AM or 3PM or some specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming on when and try to keep my schedule liquid enough that I can adapt.

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That’s why I use a starred task list system rather than a scheduled task list. It allows me to trust myself (something that I suppose takes a certain amount of discipline) and achieve peak efficiency by blowing with the winds. If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

You may not be able to trust yourself to that extent without falling into the busywork trap. You may not be able to tackle big tasks first thing in the morning without feeling like you’re pushing against an invisible brick wall that won’t budge. You might not be able to deal with small tasks before the big tasks without feeling pangs of guilt and urgency.

My point is:

The prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. They’re all pretty good for a group of people, not least of all to the people who espouse them because they use them and find them effective.

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What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of dogma (and I’m not saying Leo Babauta or David Allen preach these things as dogma, but sometimes their proponents do) until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

And if the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In truth, this principle applies to all sorts of personal productivity issues, though it’s important to know which issues it applies to.

If you thought multitasking worked well for you each day and I’d have to contend that you are wrong—multitasking is a universal myth in my books! But if you find yourself prioritizing tasks that never get done, you might need to reconsider which of the above approaches you’re using and change to a system that is more personally effective.

More About Prioritization & Time Management

Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

Reference

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