Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm too busy ...

Rhubarb Cottage, The Custards, Lyndhurst
We have a holiday cottage in The New Forest which we rent out to people to use for their holidays. The New Forest is a popular all round destination so the cottage is booked throughout the year. Twice in the last week we have had enquiries for weeks that are already booked and the reply from the disappointed enquirer was almost the same in both cases – along the lines of ‘Oh dear, I’m too late again because I’m so busy. I always seem to miss out.’

After I’d spoken to the second disappointed enquirer, I pondered on whether they actually had very busy lives (don’t we all?) or whether they were just hopelessly disorganised. I suspect it’s the latter.
Are you too busy or are you disorganised? (or even worse, both).

So what’s to do?

1. Make a List – write down the tasks that you need to complete. My wife always laughs when she sees me writing my list, but it works for me. If you write it down, you don’t have to rely on your memory – you can keep your brain free for more important activity!
2. Prioritise – identify which tasks are more important than others and make sure that you complete these.
3. Urgent versus Important – is the task urgent (you need to get it done quickly) or important (it must be done)? If you find yourself with lots of urgent tasks, what does that tell you about the way you work? There’s a lesson there somewhere …
4. Delegate – what must you do yourself and what can you delegate? Nobody to delegate to? What about using a Virtual Assistant? In these difficult times, there are plenty of good VAs who will be able to assist you.
5. Push Back – Do you say ‘Yes’ to every request that comes your way? Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ sometimes and suggest an alternative way of doing the task.
6. Concentrate and Focus – do you find yourself taking 4 hours to complete a task that takes someone else half the time? Why is this? Do you get side tracked (by email, Twitter, chatting?). Focus!
7. Don’t dabble in too many things at once – it’s tempting to think that you can do several tasks at once. Of course, we can multi task (even us men…) but don’t spread yourself too thinly.

There are many other ways to organise yourself and cut down on your daily grind. What suggestions do you have to add to the list (we can’t leave this as a list of 7, it’s an odd number!)

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here