Time Management – Tips and Tricks
I hope everyone reading this has checked out my previous Blog – Time Management – Log it and Analyze it. You truly cannot implement any real change without knowing and acknowledging the behaviours that require some change. Remember Time Management isn’t about trying to squeeze as many tasks as you can into a day – it’s about being thoughtful and organized and simplifying the way you work.
Who here is a multi-tasker and believes that they accomplish more in a day because of it? Although multi-tasking was a trend for a few years it is now believed to not be an efficient use of time. Psychology Today states: “Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.
That start/stop/start process is rough on us: rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.” If you don’t believe it there is a little experiment that you should try on https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking.
For all the multi-taskers out there – try doing one task at a time. Give yourself a time limit and focus on only one task. If you generally tackle your emails while you are talking on the phone – stop doing it for a week. Carve out a piece of time – let your calls go to voice mail, shut your office door (if you work in an office) and just concentrate on emails. You will be amazed at how much you will accomplish in 10-15 minutes (with less errors). Since we are talking about emails – how have you organized your email? Do you fully utilize all of the features/tools? Consider setting up your email so that you have a few folders set up to transfer your emails into. Try not to touch an email more than once if you don’t have to – that rule goes for any correspondence. If you look at it and it can be completed in 3 or 4 minutes – do it. How many of you are guilty of reading emails as they come in and then leaving them in your inbox because you will deal with them later. All of a sudden you have 400 emails in your inbox all of which you have taken the time to read before – but now you have to read them again to act on them. Read an email – act. If what is being asked will require more time than you have set aside – file it in a follow up folder and add it on your to-do list. Get it out of your inbox. Your inbox should only contain emails that you have not yet read. Consider setting up your computer so that you don’t receive notifications of emails coming in. It is distracting and human nature makes us curious and we will be drawn to reading the emails as they come in – this is a time suck and removes your concentration from the task that you were working on. Set up certain times during the day that you read and respond to your emails – say first thing in the morning, before/or after your lunch, and the last hour before you leave for the day.
Let’s not complicate this; the idea here is easy: Organize/Simplify/Focus!
Organize your day with a “To Do” list, an app for tracking tasks or whatever works for you personally. How do you currently manage your days? Do you utilize any task apps or are you an old-fashion pen to paper “To Do” list type of person? There are “non-negotiable meetings that must be attended and there is work travel which eats up a lot of your time – but is there a way that you can manage those as well? If you company uses calendars to set up meetings and send out invites – ensure that your calendar is set up for your success. Block time in your calendar to complete admin/email/project tasks that are required – blocking these time slots avoids others booking meetings in your calendar.
Simplify – schedule “like” tasks together. If you are working on admin type stuff – schedule all your admin stuff together. If you have a group of meetings with your clients/staff/potential clients – block off time in your calendar and schedule within that time block. Doing “like” tasks together keeps your mind focused and you are able to accomplish more. If you go from meeting to updating an excel spreadsheet to looking at the new product launch – your mind takes time to refocus and you will actually have more down time from switching tasks.
Focus – no multitasking. Focus on one item at a time and complete it. Set a timer if that helps you remain focused. Schedule your most important or “brain draining” tasks for first thing in the morning. That works well for 2 reasons; #1 generally we have more energy and operate at our peak first thing in the morning and #2 you will get the task completed and you will feel successful for having it done and that “good feeling” will create a positive vibe for the rest of the day.
Don’t forget before you go home at the end of the day – set up tomorrow’s list so you walk into work feeling organized and ready to conquer the day. Remember “google” can be your friend! If you don’t think you are utilizing the tools of your email program efficiently – google it and learn some tricks to help you with that. There is lots of information on the internet – use it. Watch a quick utube video on email efficiencies – you may learn a lot.
Don’t forget to take breaks!!!!! If you have just worked on a project for 2 hours and now are moving on to emails – get up and go for a quick walk, grab a coffee, shut your eyes and meditate for a few minutes, grab a healthy snack and then move on to your next task. Your mind and body need that break.
The key to Time Management is figuring out what works for you! Learn some tips and tricks from friends, coworkers or ask your friend “Siri” to help you out. You will be amazed what a difference incorporating a couple of Time Management tricks into your day can make.
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