The new world is exciting, right? Faster, better, easier and more powerful than any of the years gone by. With just the touch of a finger, you have all the knowledge of the world readily available, in your home, office or even when you’re in transit. And yet, these very technologies are a large contributor to making our lives a mess. There is a deluge of information, all the time – emails… social media messages… text messages – everyone is drowning and there is seemingly nothing that can be done to stem the flow. The outcome: personal task management that takes a hit.
If you are among the increasing majority that doesn’t believe in work being the only life, and want to discover that elusive work-life balance, you have already taken the first step in the right direction by reading this piece. With a little self-assessment you can be on your way to better time management.
Here are 10 ways to manage time in the new world.
1. Plan, then execute
Plan your day in advance, either the night before or in the morning. It’ll take just 10-15 minutes, but you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to accomplish. If you don’t know what needs to get done, nothing really will. You’ll keep flitting between seemingly-urgent tasks, leaving the really critical ones behind.
2. Find the time wasters
What is a time-waster, you might wonder? Anything that keeps you from finishing your tasks and from achieving your goals for the day. It might be social media, a call you can ignore or time spent on emails that can be looked at later. Be strict and you will find yourself managing to get more done in the same time.
3. To-do lists
Instead of trying to remember all that needs to get done, put it down. This way you can prioritise and plan your day. Once you have your list in front of you, get the most important things out of the way first.
4. Do not disturb
Practice the art of learning to say ‘not now, later’. While you might not be able to tell all people to not disturb you while you work, you don’t need to stop whatever task you’re on and direct your attention to what someone else considers important. Also, try practicing golden hours.
5. Minimise meetings
Meetings are one of the biggest time suckers. Nothing really ever gets done in one. Avoid them, if you can. If you must attend one, make sure the agenda and time is clearly defined. Also, keep an exit strategy ready.
6. Check your email on a schedule
Just because someone has contacted you doesn’t mean you have to respond right away. Take your time and respond at a fixed time slot. Just make sure people know when to expect a response from you. And always have a way to handle emergencies.
7. Pre-block your time
Want something done, put down time for it. Unchangeable and unshakeable. Schedule a task for a specific time slot and don’t remove it come what may. Keep at it regularly and this way you will have very little unassigned time to fritter away. Tracking how many of these pre-blocked tasks actually got done is a good way to measure productivity.
8. Use your loose time well
The time spent in commute or while waiting at the airport or even stuck in traffic is loose time, but it’s your time. Use it well. Read a new book or that report you’ve been putting off or watch a great talk by a speaker you’ve always admired but never found the time for.
9. Find your most productive time
Find your peak productivity hours and schedule your most important work then. If you must have a fixed schedule, keep your productive hours free to do your work and not just collaborate.
10. Slow down
Don’t be in a hurry to get things done. Rushed jobs can turn into botched jobs. Doing something slowly means you spend the time doing it and not rush from one task to the next, leaving a wake of mistakes behind.
PS: Sapience Buddy is a time-tracking program that will keep track of your activities and time on the computer and on the go. One of the best personal productivity apps, it can give you a snapshot of how you spend your time between emails, chat, social media, calls, meetings, travel, socialising and core activities. At the end of the month you can go through the work pattern analysis report and know your most productive hours, work patterns and time wasters. It’s a great way to improve productivity and make the most of your work hours.
To learn more about our personal productivity and time management software, visit www.sapience.net