…to Manage Your Priorities
By East Apthorp
East Apthorp is the Marketing Director for AchieveGlobal’s Leadership Portfolio. During her 15 years with the company, East has contributed to numerous successful initiatives related to the company’s marketing efforts, including strategic planning, research development, product launches, and market positioning.
If you’re reading this while eating your lunch, and simultaneously working your way through your departmental To-Do list, you’re not alone. A recent story on NPR points to research indicating that just one-in-five employees in today’s workforce takes an actual lunch break, while most of us are lunching at our desk, while working.
When I read this statistic, I started taking note of the shape of things around me. In the time it takes me to write this article, I will be interrupted or distracted multiple times by email, phone or in-person interactions. I will skip my lunch break in order to meet my deadline. In fact, academic studies have found that office workers are interrupted – or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms.
Distraction at the office is hardly new, and adds even greater significance to a new AchieveGlobal report, Escape From the Maelstrom: Managing Priorities in a Chaotic Workplace. In that report, we outline the realities of today’s workplace that result in an impossible (and often toxic) environment defined by increased pressures and decreased productivity. From distractions to longer work hours, today we’re often called on to do everything, with next to nil resources.
To those for whom this is reality, just reading this is likely increasing your stress and cortisol levels. Take a deep breath: there is good news.
The answer lies in an elegant two-pronged solution:
Manage Focus: achievable by focusing on clarity, energy, and attention
Manage Requests: by immediately and actively sorting demands for your energy into possible, impossible, and probable.
You’ll notice that both of these prongs begin with the word “Manage.” A good reminder to yourself and to those around you: when a request arrives on your desk, ask yourself, “What do I need to do, or put in place, to manage this appropriately?”
And sometimes, the answer to that question really begins with this: Take a breath. Take a break. Come back with renewed energy and fresh perspective… then manage your priorities. Time saved, crisis averted, mission accomplished.