You cannot manage time. Unless you’re Stephen Hawking of course. But the odds are you’re not. What you can do is plan the way you use the time available to you. Way too many people, including me, fill their calendars with meetings all the way up. When this happens there is not enough time to complete the tasks you have for the day or the pressing issues that will come up that very day.
There are a couple of things that need addressing at the office:
- Tasks for the day
- Unexpected pressing assignments also known as fire hazards
- General socializing and email
Face it, all of these are important in the office space. The best you can do work and time wise is to set boundaries for the first two items as they’re things you can control, to some extent at least.
If possible, start the most important tasks immediately in the morning and get it out of the way. This way you’re ahead of everybody else who are still reading their emails when you’ve already finished the most important task of the day. Many people start their day by reading their emails. Just don’t. For the same reason avoid having meetings first thing in the morning.
Another thing to remember is to leave enough time in-between the meetings so you can recap and see what you actually need to do. If you absolutely have to start your day with meetings then make sure you have enough time to finish the tasks before you head home.
In most office environments your calendar can be seen by others (Outlook calendars for example). If you have a scheduled a meeting for doing tasks (be it only by yourself) it’s less likely that you will get overwhelmed with so many meetings that you won’t be able to finish anything else that day.
Having said that the most important thing about time management is this. Schedule time for yourself to check off the tasks for the day. And after that leave enough room for mingling. You’ll do that anyway.
So stop trying to manage time. Instead plan your time to work effectively.Tweet
*Bling*, email, need to check. I will quit everything I’m doing right now to see what that email is all about. I have to do it now, RIGHT NOW, IT MIGHT BE VERY IMPORANT!
We’ve all been there. It is the biggest time waster of all time in a working environment. Just by getting interrupted on a task might take as long as 45 minutes to get you back on track. Just for two minutes’ quickie. It’s not worth it.
I noticed it about three years ago that a lot of my time was going to emails and I actually wasn’t getting anything done except email. I disabled all the audible alerts, visual alerts and auto send/receive and started to check email after I had finished my first big task of the day. Then I’d check it every 30 minutes. This already had a huge impact - not checking it first thing in the morning. And after that I had 30 minutes of uninterrupted time (if nothing else came between) to clear my to do list in between the times. Huge improvement.
Next I made it every hour. I got even more done. I could now do the tasks that used to feel impossible because they would take more than 20 minutes to complete and would require concentration. Eventually I got to two times daily. Before lunch and before leaving office. I worked with that for a long time and it worked perfectly.
Now, I’m down to once daily. And believe me, none of my colleagues dare do the same. For them it’s too important. It’s not. It’s a culture shift to being more productive and people know that. They just don’t dare to take the bold step towards efficiency and effectiveness.
Take the first step, don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Do your big task first thing in the morning and then if you get nothing else done you’ve accomplished at least something. Not a bad day’s work.Tweet
Do you feel that you don’t have enough time to get through your tasks in a day? Do you need to manage your time better? You have to forget all about it. It’s not how you manage time but how you prioritize. Task and time management is trivial.
It is quite easy these days to think that you have achieved something on a given day. But this is merely an illusion. An illusion of the virtual age. It really seems that you can do something the whole day and feel that you have actually achieved something. But take a good look back and see if that’s really the case.
Sitting around on a computer, answering to emails, socializing on your platforms and chatting around doesn’t really constitute as doing stuff. It’s the virtual world that has fooled us to thinking that it’s worth the same as going out and really socializing with your friends or family. But this is all just a natural course of life and technology. I’ll take email in a work environment as an example.
Email today is a quick way of communicating and especially in corporate environments it’s more or less expected that you answer to your emails immediately. If you’re not answering quick enough not you’re not doing your job right.
This leads us to constant interruptions and the inability to concentrate on a given task. There are studies that show that it might take you as long as 45 minutes to regain concentration after an interruption. This more or less proves that we’re doing less and less within our working hours because we really just can’t concentrate.
There is an easy fix for this. In fact the fix is so easy that you don’t believe it makes any difference. Don’t read email first thing in the morning. Try this for a week. It will be difficult. You will need to plan ahead. Your productivity will go up and you’ll feel better about your day.
I know. I have experienced it. This is what you need to do.
- Plan your day the previous day or evening.
- List the things you need to do tomorrow. If there are more than three eliminate the unnecessary. Choose only the mission critical items.
- Seriously, remove those extra items, now.
- In the morning, start working on the first item. Do it from start to finish. Remove all interruptions: email, casual visitors, unnecessary phone calls. Then have a break and start the second task. Remember to tick off the first one. Get all the items done before lunch. If there’s not enough time you have too many items.
- Open your email application. This is the point that everything really important has been finished. You’re done for the day. The rest of the day can be used for clearing emergencies and the most important part: listing the 3 tasks for tomorrow.
The smallest things can make a big difference. Start yours now. Follow me on Twitter for more productivity tips.Tweet