In an age of instant information, virtual communications and real-time tools to make our lives more efficient, we still seem to be always pressed for time. We often think that there are not enough hours in the day or that we have too many tasks or commitments to cram into a relatively short period of time. But rather than looking at tasks and activities as time consuming, we should instead study what we are doing and analyze where our actual minutes are being allocated.
The most effective way to manage time is to carefully consider what our priorities are and proactively manage the distractions that present themselves over the course of any given day. The following are a few things to contemplate when determining how best to utilize our daily minutes and hours:
Establish main priorities are and do them well. Instead of filling up our days with tasks that are not a priority, it is important to concentrate on activities that have the highest payoff. Spending time on things that are not important and rushing through important aspects of our jobs will not translate into success and will not leave us with the personal satisfaction of a job well done!
Move away from being the perfectionist. No one is perfect and oftentimes the things that we lament about make very little difference to others. If we commit to doing the best that we can do with our time and resources (both at work and at home) we will become more satisfied with the outcome. Obsessing about whether or not it could have been done another way is energy draining and a time waster.
Eliminate procrastination. Oftentimes we procrastinate on a top priority task because the thought of it is tough and overwhelming. Consider working on tasks that will yield the greatest results early in the day and then focus energy on the less important activities as mental energy tends to wane toward the end of the day. Completing important tasks first is an energy giver and will help to maintain momentum and feel positive about the work accomplished for the rest of the day.
Set aside planning time. Allocating 15-20 minutes a day (uninterrupted) to focus on planning and prioritizing, will help eliminate the "winging it” mentality and will also set a focus point when and if interruptions occur. Carefully investigate what needs to be done, what can be eliminated and who is available to help. Time or project management tools can also be useful.
Look for ways to limit interruptions. Who and what are the biggest interruptions (certain co-workers, phone calls, an avalanche of emails)? Once these have been identified, look for ways to bundle time and energy and address each one. For example, setting aside a half hour mid-day to answer emails and return phone calls will satisfy the need to stay connected and engaged, but will not completely derail the progress and momentum of the current task at hand.
Make time for your self – daily. Oftentimes, the thought of exercise or meditation during the week is a fleeting fantasy. As much as we would love to incorporate it into our daily routine, we find ourselves making excuses and promising ourselves the perpetual "tomorrow.” A regular exercise routine will not only give us additional energy to get through our day, but will also give us time to decompress. This mental break will also serve to solve challenges more effectively and give us much needed peace and quiet.
If we re-think our thoughts and current perceptions on time and how our time is spent, we will find that we actually do have time to focus our energy on the important things in life!
This article was published in The Training Connection, Inc.'s November 2015 Newsletter.
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