Are you too busy to manage your time? In my work with Balance Integration, we all work virtually. I love that I get to work from anywhere, yet it’s easy to fall prey to time sucks like social media or responding to emails.
The team is making a concerted effort to change our habits to increase productivity (and sanity), but old habits are hard to kick.
An article in Entrepreneur asks an interesting question: “Do you live by clock time or real time?” It suggests that time is irrelevant and we live in a real-time world where time flies when you’re having fun, and feels endless when doing boring tasks like getting a license renewed at the DMV.
But really, anything can be more fun if we shift our thinking and “remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation around ‘not having enough time’ or today not being ‘the right time.”
They suggest there are three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions, and controlling how much time spent on each leads to increased productivity.
So let’s take action and consider enacting techniques often recommended by time management experts to get more time in your day.
First, take a deep breath and acknowledge that change is hard. Especially if you’re established in your career and have your own way of doing things.
But in this age of fast-changing technology and accessible tools, ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing working? Can I make one small change to manage my time better to become more efficient?” If the answer is “yes”, here we go:
- Track for one week – chances are you’re not spending time where you think you are, and tracking allows you to see that clearly and adjust your schedule. It is especially helpful to see if where you spend time actually yields positive results – a real eye opener!
- Plan – use the beginning of your day to plan what you’ll do, and use time before and after a meeting to plan your approach and follow up. Even 5 minutes will help.
- Prioritize – Do the most important things on your plan first so you’re not tempted to avoid them. Often it’s the items outside of your comfort zone that get neglected, yet they are usually the ones you must do to achieve your goals.
- Turn on the DND – interruptions can disrupt your focus and derail your aforementioned plan. Turn your phone and email on “do not disturb,” (employ the email auto response function if need be), shut off notifications, and disconnect. If this step makes you break out in hives, just put the phone in a drawer so it’s out of your line of sight.
- Set boundaries – how often do you say “no”? If you consistently schedule activities that don’t fulfill you personally or professionally, it’s time to start declining select opportunities.
- Access tools – calendar reminders, apps and even sticky notes serve to keep you on task and on time. Use them! This article from Lifehack offers some technology solutions (but don’t get time sucked into clicking mindlessly on all of them!)
- Time (or project) block – this one is hard for me as I’ve been a multitasker since birth, planning surprise parties for my parents at the age of 7! But I find allocating time to focus on particular projects helps me bang them out effectively.
- Focus and be present – don’t get caught up in the details, yesterday, or tomorrow. Otherwise your brain will whirl like your computer spinner!
I also find strategic distractions can be beneficial. For example, purposely stepping away from a task will let your creativity flow, give ideas time to gel, and can bring you back to the task at hand energized.
I live by the 80/20 rule: stay the course 80% of the time, and allow for wiggle room the other 20%.
We all have the same amount of minutes in a day. It’s how we use them that differs, and leads to a fruitful or ineffective day.
Play with it and find what works for you. May you be productive and prosper!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™