Fact: our most precious resource is our time.
The bad news: life in the digital era can be a major time consumer with little benefits gained at the end of the day.
The good news: it’s at the hand of every person to manage his/her “time leaks” to balance effectiveness with spontaneous.
Here’s a gist of the modern human:
News alerts, emails from the boss, wife texts you on Whatsapp what do about your kid’s horrendous facebook feed, 10 LinkedIn requests awaiting your approval and the digital suction goes on and on 24/7.
With all this going on in the background, you have to meet deadlines, budgets, solve technical issues on a new project, and around 250 unread emails, half is spam and the other half is from people awaiting your actions and decisions. And your boss expects the company’s future pipeline draft by the end of the week, and it better be smart and dripping of novelty.
Is that a knock on the door or is it your exploding brain trying to crack your skull? Do you feel suffocated by the “lack” of time?
It is TIME to take control over it. Below are
several quick tips for improving your work productivity and which will give you one hour of respite a day.
Using a To-do list
Most of us have a to-do list. The question is, how often or how effective do you utilize this tool? It doesn’t matter if you go digital or old-school, you must carry with you the to-do list all the time. An effective to-do list will help keep your brain free for new insights, deep thinking, artistic vision and the like. An effective to-do list system will be:
- Used every day for at least 4 consecutive weeks (after which it will be part of your routine)
- Routinely used to keep every task, important thought, ideas and even jotting and drawing. free your mind from nagging thoughts such as: I must remember to do “X, Y, Z…”
- Used to find all the great things you documented under 2 minutes. Its easier to accomplish this using digital to-do lists such as Wunderlist, Asana, Evernote though if you who prefer pen and paper, visit the bullet journal (http://bulletjournal.com/) for setting up a productive analog to-do list.
Goals & Plans
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” A. Lincoln
Most of us think that we know what goals we pursue. Do you? How many times you’ve visited you goal list (company’s or your personal ones)?
Each morning, before looking at your inbox, start by listing all your tasks for the coming day:
- Open tasks left from the previous day
- Emails which are important or urgent.
Once task listing is completed prioritize the different tasks (Covey’s priority grid can help). Determine up to 3 main tasks that must be completed by the end of the day and define them as “Goals”. Assign time blocks for your goals in your calendar according to your meetings schedule. If you have many short important/urgent tasks pool them together and list them in the notes/description of your calendar invite message according to their priority category (important, urgent).
Notifications (telephone calls, text messages, reminders, email notifications) are the most effective productivity killers. Best practice is to switch your phone to silent mode (face down) or airplane mode to filter only the most valuable calls (spouse, your kids, direct supervisor etc). Email notifications from outlook or web browser should be disabled and specific time blocks allocated for proactively dealing with this task (more below).
You might think that you’re an accomplished multi-tasker that can both talk on the phone, level resources on MS project and text your wife what’s dress to take for the wedding you attend that evening. Chances are, you’re wasting more time jumping from one task to another.
One can categorize tasks according to the resources required to complete them (time and energy). Approving orders might take 10 minutes and require low energy, while completing the company’s future pipeline draft might take 12 hours of intense research and analysis work.
You can focus the intense work to the hours of the day that you know that you are most productive and energetic (the early morning hours) and space these intense work blocks by low energy tasks.
Depending on your working style (resident or commuting), your desk can be the most important piece of furniture aside from your chair. The way you use your desk can determine how much time you’re wasting or using effectively.
Allocate around 1 hour of a certain day and look at your desk.
- Determine what items must remain on your desk so you will not waste time looking for it (be ruthless, think minimalism). The rest of the items store in a drawer or a cabinet, depending on the item’s usage.
- Rearrange the items on the desk such that (A) the most important ones are close to you, (B) the most handled ones are placed on the dominant hand side of the desk, (C) you have an open space for writing notes etc (or that you can quickly allocate space by moving a few items).
- Maintain proper ergonomics, sitting with your back straight and keeping the screen at perpendicular position to your line of vision. This video (http://read.bi/29XUywg, with sound) will take you through the key aspects of a healthy and productive ergonomic setup.
You might be a person that like to help others. It might be to lift a heavy box or showing how to use a certain function in excel. Your colleagues at work will appreciate your helping hand and knowledge, however, Be that as it may, you also have commitments and responsibilities that must not be neglected and which at higher priority. So, select which request to answer depending on the resources required (as discussed above under “Focus” section). And learn to say “No.” when it is needed, your colleague will eventually respect that quality.
Remember, time is a resource that should be managed proactively and not let loose. Use it wisely.