Imagine the feeling you have after a week away at the beach. No phone, no internet – just mai tai’s, the soothing sound of the ocean, and a state of pure relaxation. You’ve had time to unwind, unplug, disengage.
Now imagine life on a Monday morning at the office. Frenetic typing, jumping from project to project, and uncertainty of where to even start. Likely you’re carrying home stress along with your laptop bag.
Our goal as business professionals should be finishing each work day, without extra projects to bring home – knowing you’ve had plenty of time in your day to accomplish what you need.
So how do you do that? Follow these 5 tips to get your time back:
One of the most important things you can do is prioritize your day. Focus your time on what will garner you the best results. It can be easy to get a handful of activities done in the time it may take to do a ‘harder’ one, but focus on the results you want to see when making your priority list. Remember the 80/20 rule – spend 80% of your time on the 20% of things that contribute to your main goals and responsibilities. As you follow this rule, you’ll find that your strategic, ‘hard’ projects are the ones that actually drive the results you want.
- Engage with technology
Don’t be afraid of technology doing your work. If you find yourself answering 1000 emails the same way every single day, use a template and a simple copy and paste function or the QuickParts option in Outlook to add the bulk of your message in less than a second and then tailor it to the individual you’re sending to.
Adding information in one system and turning around and keying the very same information into another? Integrate it instead. Make sure your systems talk to each other.
- Work smarter, not harder (aka longer)
To efficiently accomplish what you need, spend a few minutes blocking your schedule. Focus on projects that need a lot of attention or creativity in the morning, reserve a short block of time in the mid-morning and late afternoon for email, schedule portions of time for other recurring, major responsibilities. Don’t let your calendar be a free for all.
Ditch multi-tasking. You may pride yourself on the ability to work on 17 projects at once, but I can guarantee you are not giving the highest performance to any of them. What results is often underlying stress because deep down, you know you could do better. Focus on one thing at a time. If you’re in a meeting – be fully there – don’t use it as a time to also do your email. If you’re working on a project, log yourself out of your group work chat.
- Determine the results you want out of meetings you call – or don’t do them.
We all know how much time meetings take. If you call a meeting, be sure you have determined the results you want out of it so you know if it is successful. If someone else calls a meeting and asks you to attend, know the clear purpose before you agree to attend and be sure there are action items for each person in attendance by the end of the meeting. If someone doesn’t have an action item – they may not need to attend next time.
- Empower other people at your organization to make decisions.
A false sense of importance can be something that takes up a ton of our time. Why? Because we refuse to give up work that “only we” can do. Empower other people to take on responsibilities. Do you really need to be the only one that can make changes to your company blog? Do you really need to be the only one with the ability to run a specific report for the CEO? Are there others that can serve as a company resource beside you? Enable other people to do the tasks that you don’t need to focus on. (Remember the 80/20 rule.)
You are a powerful person. You can take back your time by following 5 easy tips. Doing so will ensure that every Monday evening is a just-returned-from-the-beach-feeling.
Next week we will discuss practical, time saving solutions for your business.