What makes The Great British Bake Off compelling viewing? We all watch, empathetic, as the contestants become more and more flustered. Sandi and Noel count down the minutes left for them to complete their bakes, leaving mousses not having enough time to set then exploding out of their moulds, Paul and Prue cringing when taking a bite into an underdone sausage roll and contestant disappointment when they experience a last-minute cake topper collapse.
However, there are clear lessons that can be taken from this gem of TV entertainment; the contestants are constantly working under pressure, dealing with the ambiguous and unexpected, having to maintain performance through long days, multi-tasking and planning ahead for the following weeks in between episodes. Maybe we can take a leaf out of their book (or a slice out of their cake in this instance) on improving our own time management.
- Set realistic goals
Perhaps the most important tip on our list is to set goals which are achievable. It’s all well and good to plan an 8-tier cake, but can this be achieved in your three-hour deadline? Make your goals SMART:
Specific: The goal clearly defines the outcomes required to achieve the goal
Measurable: It is made clear at what point the goal will be achieved
Achievable: You have the resources and time to allow you to achieve the goal
Relevant: The goal aligns with the bigger goals of the team, department or company
Time-Bound: The goal clearly specifies a completion date
By being overambitious, you could be setting yourself up to fail; instead, try to be realistic about what you can achieve with your resources and in the timeframe you have available. Instead of undertaking several different tasks that you know you’ll either struggle to finish or won’t achieve on time, allocate a realistic time limit for each and take on one thing at a time – don’t force multitasking if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
- Give yourself extra time
You must always ensure that you give yourself more time than you think you’d need. We regularly see Bake Off contestants assume that if something has gone well first time at home, it will all be alright on the night. However, this is when disaster strikes and their caramel doesn’t work, or their bakes cook slower in a different oven to the one they have at home.
If you’ve set yourself a target to complete your work, does this allow extra time for things not to go to plan? What happens if the Wi-Fi goes down, or you’re ill, or some other unforeseen occurrence happens? By giving yourself more time than you actually need, you can keep cool when the pressure is on. If nothing goes wrong, you can make a start on your next task sooner and achieve more in your day than you thought you could.
- Avoid sloppy shortcuts
When bakers cut corners in their recipes, such as not waiting for their cakes to cool before icing them or failing to grease their cake tins, the results are never how the contestants set out for them to be.
We don’t mean savvy hacks to save time; trying to save time within your projects by skipping essential tasks will only come back to bite you later on. Often, it is planning that is cut short in measures taken to be more effective – but starting strong and taking the time to plan out a task or project will make you feel calmer and is likely to have a better outcome at the end.
- Focus on the bigger picture
Regardless of the situation, it’s a fact that sometimes stress can get the better of us, leaving us feel grumpy, frazzled and overwhelmed.
The most important thing we can do in this situation is to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture, looking at the situation from an external perspective. Bakers can completely crash and burn in one round of GBBO, then hit it out of the park on the next round and win the highly sought-after Star Baker apron.
In your job, for example, it could be 4.45pm on a Friday afternoon and you’ve got a 5pm deadline to hit; however, you’ve had an IT nightmare and you know you’ll never meet the deadline. Depending on who the deadline is for, ask yourself if it can be left until Monday morning when you’re back at your desk. Will the recipient have likely left for the weekend anyway? This small delay will give you extra time to work on the deadline without having affected the recipient.
Excess stress can be incredibly damaging, especially if it is happening regularly within your role. When it comes to stress and pressure, it’s important to recognise how you feel and communicate it to your line manager or colleagues.
If you would like more information on Time Management or Stress Awareness in the workplace, give us a call: 01437 721879.