Do you have a fully packed agenda? And do you experience that consequently, important, but seemingly less urgent tasks or projects move to the background, such as bringing in a financial aid, working on new challenging projects, improving your career or developing certain leadership qualities?

You are not the only one with this experience. In this article, you will discover how you can use ‘the smart and fun factor’ in making smart choices so you can focus on what is really important.

“At the moment I am finding myself in a survival mode. Because my agenda is so packed with educational activities and other obligations, I don’t have time left for anything else. In the meantime, I feel a high pressure to work on my research”. These are the words of Ellen, a talented scientist who participated in a career session I gave at an university. Her story is recognizable for many. At least 80% of the group struggles with the problem of a packed agenda and are noticing that consequently, important things move to the background.

Focusing all your attention on a certain project or task does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. At times it might be necessary to give a certain project your undivided attention, for instance if you are experiencing a peak in your career, or because you have gotten a nice opportunity. In these cases, it can be fun and smart to do this.

If however, one busy period of time is followed by another, this is a whole other story. Instead of slowing down for a while and work on other important things, you move these important things (unknowingly) to the background. On the long term this may have several negative consequences, for instance missing out on career opportunities or getting exhausted from these busy times.

If you feel overloaded for an extended period of time, it is essential to make choices. This may seem complicated, but it can be very simple. Number all your projects on a scale from one to ten on ‘the smart-factor’. The smart-factor represents how challenging a project is for you, how much it contributes to your career or other goals you have set for yourself. After this you number your projects again, but this time on “the fun factor”. The fun-factor represents the fun and energy a project will likely give you.

Back to the story of Ellen: In the back of her mind she thought of 9 scientific articles that needed her attention. Not making choices caused a lot of energy being wasted on just thinking about these obligations. By numbering these 9 projects on ‘the smart and fun factor’, she immediately saw which projects she wanted to give her attention to. She decided to focus all of her energy on these projects in the little time she had left. Therefore by making choices, she could accomplish more in her work.

Do you also want more attention for important things? Put your projects in order and decide which projects have the highest ‘smart and fun factor’ for you. Then, by choosing which projects you will give your attention to, you will get results much faster.


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