Camper and Nicholsons

Our News Ask The Crew Coach - Our Leadership Q&A Column

19th Sep 2014

Want to stay on top of your workload but feel like you are fighting an ongoing battle? Camper & Nicholsons's Crew Coach divulges top tips that will make these endless tasks seem much more manageable.


There seems to always be something urgent demanding my time, but there are other important tasks that I’m just not getting to. I seem to be running from one crisis to another, putting out fires and never quite getting on top of everything I need to do. What could I do differently to keep on top of all my responsibilities with less stress?

Crew Coach:

Most Captains wish they had more time because their ‘to do’ lists often seem to be never ending, especially when running a busy yacht. Many people struggle with time management, and stress, tiredness and scattered focus can all contribute to time slipping through our fingers. But there are some simple methods you can apply to get things back under control and ensure you get to the important tasks and projects, as well as the urgent ones.

Becoming more productive is not necessarily about doing more things, or finding more time to get everything done. In fact it’s not possible to ‘have more time’ - we all have the same amount of time available: we can’t save it for later, we can’t extend it and make it last longer, and we can’t get it back once it has passed – so everything depends on the way we actually use our time, and this really comes down to whether we are using it efficiently or not.

My five top tips for greater productivity are:

1. Shift from a ‘task focus’ to an ‘outcome focus’. Being task focussed means you have an endless to-do list which is impossible to visualise and you feel like you’re never getting anywhere, which is very demotivating. It’s also difficult to prioritise and harder to manage new additions as you are always in the ‘middle’ of doing something, you never get to feel the satisfaction of completing something. An outcome focus is by contrast easier to visualise. You can concentrate on reaching your objective and know where you are in relation to this, meaning you are on a timeline to completion rather than on an endless treadmill. It is also easier to see the big picture when you have a few clear ‘outcomes’ or ‘goals’ you are working towards, so when new priorities come in you can see where they fit in to your overall desired outcomes and allocate them accordingly.

2. Learn how to prioritise using a matrix to give tasks and responsibilities a priority score that reflects your overall goals and objectives. In my ultimate productivity training I go into this in more detail, giving you a template for measuring the true urgency and importance of each task on your list so you can work through your priorities in the right order. This ensures important tasks are not continuously overlooked at the expense of urgent tasks.

3. Stick to a maximum of three essential outcomes that you are working towards per day and per week. Of course there are other things that will get done alongside these, but ask yourself at the beginning of each week and each day, what are the three most important results that need to be achieved at the end of this day/week? Keep these written up where you can see them easily and check in with yourself regularly throughout to ensure you are on track to achieving those top 3 results daily and weekly.

4. Batch your work into groups of similar tasks. If you know you have several phone calls to make today, do them all one after another. If you have accounting work to do, gather all related tasks on this and do them all together. This is a great productivity tip as you are literally using the same parts of your brain to process similar tasks, so you don’t lose time ‘shifting gears’ by moving between different types of tasks. You’ll process your work faster and more easily than you would otherwise as you gather momentum with each similar task you complete.

5. ‘Go Dark’. This is a great tip from Graham Alcott’s book “How to become a productivity ninja” and is probably the single most essential habit to develop if you ever want to make headway on your most important projects. Going dark simply means putting aside a block of time to work on a key project and then switching off your phone, email and any other distractions to focus 100% on the job at hand. This works best if you inform your colleagues so they can support you by warding off any other potential interruptions and are not left wondering why you’ve suddenly disappeared. If you’re worried about being out of contact for a long time try doing this for just 30 or 40 minutes to begin with, have a 10 minute break to deal with anything urgent that’s come up and then go back to your project for another 40 minutes.

I hope these productivity tips help and don’t forget to check out the new online training course available to our fleet Captains, ‘Ultimate Productivity’, where you will find a wealth of other essential time management tools and techniques that really do work for busy yachting professionals.

Camper & Nicholsons International provides complimentary leadership training and coaching including a private and confidential hotline for the Captains of our Managed and Charter yachts. For more information about our Crew Development Program and our Crew Coach please click here.

For all your crew placement needs don't hesitate to get in touch with our Crew Placement Division.

by Camper Nicholsons

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