Most people experience spikes in activity that appear to be greater than the hours available to complete them. There’s much to do and so little time to do it in. Does this sound familiar?
My challenge in crunch times is not changing my behaviour to accommodate the extra work. I try to cram everything into my existing schedule, which causes frustration and stress. I even take on new activities, which increases the pressure.
What I have realized is that you need to adjust your thinking and actions as soon as you realize that a heavy workload is coming. Here is how I plan on managing one I am about to take on:
- Block off time on your calendar to complete key tasks―they can’t be compromised and need to be protected from less important activities
- Maintain your fitness―sustained energy is necessary to effectively complete a period of high performance
- Negotiate new timelines if your work exceeds the available time to complete it―attempting the impossible leads to poor quality
- Track your time―measurement leads to improved effectiveness
- Say no to new tasks―this is easier and more effective than trying to adjust your existing commitments to accommodate new ones
- Let everyone know you are entering a crunch time―intense focus can be misinterpreted. Also, this discourages people asking you take on new tasks
- Mandate a six hour sleep rule―any less and you quickly reach diminishing returns
- Set an end date for when the crunch period is over―if not, the crunch pace can become your new norm
- Capture lessons learned―throughout the period, ask yourself what is going well and what could be improved upon?
- Reward yourself and those close to you―celebrating acknowledges sacrifices made and helps frame the experience as worthwhile
Spikes in activity are common in most roles and professions. It’s a side effect of today’s constantly changing work environments. How you manage them determines whether you crunch the work or the work crunches you.