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3 ways to make time for meaningful work

Get the work done that matters most with these tips

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January 02, 2024

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2024 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Do you find yourself wearing “busyness” as a badge of honor? Are you overwhelmed by tasks and to-dos? 

Many of us are so busy spinning plates that we forget to focus on work most meaningful to us and our organization. 

Start the day with your priorities 

The easiest way to ensure you make time for priorities is by creating rules for yourself based on your values and goals. 

For example, to get time to focus on critical work, your rule could be, “No email before 11 a.m.” If physical health is important, you could say, “Stretch before drinking my coffee.” 

The key is to take back your morning so you can feel you’ve accomplished important tasks, even if the rest of the day gets away from you. 

Block time in your calendar 

To carve out time for key tasks that move forward strategic initiatives, block off time for those tasks. Then treat that time with the same respect you give key meetings like with your boss or manager’s boss.

After you block time in your calendar for key tasks, label it in a way that discourages others from scheduling over it. It should be truthful and sound important. For example, you can call it “Strategy session.” The truth is you are having a strategy session … with yourself.

Treat this meeting time as a boundary that no one can cross. Remember, you are your most important client.

Delegate tasks you don’t have to do 

When you’re overwhelmed with tasks, get in the habit of asking yourself this question before jumping in: “Who would enjoy doing this?” 

You cannot be the answer for everything. There may be someone on your team who would see the task as a growth opportunity. 

This will also make you more likely to be seen as promotable, because the more senior you get, the more you must delegate and the more you need to make time for yourself to think and be strategic. 

Start carving out time for meaningful work now. It’s up to you to create the space to do what’s meaningful, both for you and your organization. 

When you prioritize work that’s truly valuable, you’ll deliver better outcomes and be seen as strategic and promotable. And you’ll feel calmer, more present and more fulfilled.

So what are you waiting for? 

Get started today.

May Busch

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Written by May Busch, a former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe, who is now an executive coach, speaker, advisor, author and executive-in-residence in ASU’s Office of the President. 

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