4 ways to manage your time better right now
- March 15, 2017
- Posted by: Mark
- Category: performance training
Ever wonder why you manage to get nearly twice as much work done before you go on holidays as you would normally get done in an entire week? Why is it that some days, you seem to fly through your work whereas on other days, you cannot understand where the time went. Everyone, everywhere has the same 24 hours a day. It’s not that time is the problem. It’s how we are managing it, how we are measuring it, how we are using it and how we are spending it.
If you’re human (quick check) you probably ‘struggle and juggle’. You struggle to get everything done in the standard working day and you juggle a lot of meetings, email and phone calls. Sounds about right? I do too. Or at least I did until I made a few changes. Whilst you do not always have control over what you have to do, the only person who controls what you give attention to second-by-second is you. So that’s where we’ll start.
Take out your iPhone or android right now. Go find the clock. Somewhere in that function, you will find a ‘stopwatch’ Ready? Press ‘start’. Keep doing whatever your scheduled activity is until you have completed it. Did someone interrupt you? Press ‘stop’. When they leave, press ‘go’. Did the phone ring and you answered it? Press ‘stop’. Call over? Great! Back to work. Press ‘go’. An email has just ‘pinged’ in your inbox. Ignored it? Great! If you didn’t, press ‘stop’. Facebook (seriously?) Same thing. You get the idea. If you do this honestly (h-o-n-e-s-t-l-y) you will be amazed how much work you have done by the end of the day (1.35 hours first time I did this) compared with how much you think you have done. It’s scary. Try it. This is where the time is going.
2. Two-time your email
Whilst email has its uses, it also has abuses. Why does email make such a sweet ‘ping’ sound when it arrives in your inbox? It’s to make you read it. Let’s remove the temptation. I don’t check my email as soon as I start my working day. I check it at 10AM for 45 minutes and again for 45 minutes at 3PM. That’s it. That gives me 1.5 hours to deal with email. I have to ‘train’ others (as well as myself) that email like all my other activities is scheduled. My top 10 contacts know to call me if something absolutely cannot wait. For everyone else, it’s a morning email reply, an afternoon email reply or a call-back after 4.30pm. You may of course want to ‘ok’ this with your boss to find a happy compromise. It works though. My productivity has gone through the roof.
3. Nail Meetings
This may not come as news to you but many team meetings are wasting valuable company time discussing matters which are irrelevant or of low-value. In the absence of an agenda, side-issues take over. If your team could nail one thing this financial year, it would have to be meetings. ‘SCRUM’ principles are worth consideration. They require that people stand and speak for two minutes maximum. “What I have accomplished” (positive). “What I am doing right now.” “Where I need help.” That’s it. Problem-resolution and planning are ‘taken offline’. Observers may attend but they may not interrupt. Meetings last no more than 15 minutes. They start and end on time. It may sound radical. It is. It needs a culture-shift. It may need a mind-shift too but it works.
4. Change the Wallpaper
The Germans have a nice turn of phrase ‘tapetenwechsel’ (ta-pay-ten-veksel). It literally means a ‘change of wall-paper’, which is a clever way of describing the need to have fresh surroundings. Now and again, get up and move desks if available. Bring your laptop (or tablet) with you to another corner of the office. Grab 30 minutes in the cafeteria when it’s not busy. Refer to this life-saving formula: [laptop + Wi-Fi = tapetenwechsel]. Thanks to Wi-Fi, you can be within range of your company network and still get work done. A ‘change of wallpaper’ can help psychologically, reduce distractions, re-energise you and stretch out sore muscles. What’s not to like?
performance training that works for you:
These simple tips (and others) help my students when I use them as part of my performance training solutions. As part of this module, you and your team will be able to spot weaknesses in personal routines, incorporate the latest best management practices and devise greater efficiencies in your day-to-day team-work.