We all know it.
Everyone has the same number of hours each day, week, month, year...
The difference for people who achieve more is the way they manage their time. Inevitably when I am working with clients, there is a common frustration about the lack of time to get things done. Beyond frustration, serious time management issues result in increased stress, loss of productivity and possibly significant blows to your reputation in business and personal life.
Of course, the key is to prioritize, plan and manage our work efficiently. I want to highlight a few areas where attending to matters that are not urgent can be a big distraction from what's most important.
Consider how you manage availability and use of your time in these areas:
THE PHONE: Does it make you more available to the right people at the right time?
- Don’t answer unknown phone numbers. If it’s important enough, they will leave a message.
- Set a reassuring voice mail to suggest a text message or e-mail might be more efficient.
- Ask specific questions when you do take a call – “how can I help you, today?” instead of “ how’s it going?”
- Save contact info on every number that comes in for future reference / screening.
- Send a text of expectations of time, topic & duration before calling on someone.
- Don’t start texting conversations that can drag you away from your priorities.
- Schedule times to thoughtfully respond to incoming texts.
- Take a break completely. Leave that phone at home for an hour or a full day occasionally. (Gasp!)
- Turn notifications off for apps that you don't need to be aware of all day.
- Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only. Some highly effective people check only once or twice per day. (think 10 and 4)
- Do not check e-mail first thing in the morning - it can shuffle your priorities and plans for the day before you even get started.
- Do not check e-mail last thing at night – it can keep you up in thought or action.
- If you open e-mail on your phone that needs a thorough response, set a reminder or reset status to ‘unread’ .
- Agree to meetings or calls with clear agenda and time frame.
- Pick the optimal duration. Meetings can be 17 minutes long… they don’t all have to fall on 30, 60, 90…
- Do not meet with everyone in person. Focus on the 20% that are most in line with your goals.
- Be thoughtful to schedule when you are emotionally and mentally most present.
My hope is that these tips can help you stay on track to achieve your results with less distraction and frustration. Sometimes these habits are hard to break or cause some disruption in relationships. There may be a small fee or a few apologies while your world adjusts. I suggest you try a few of them at a time. Make a commitment for 6 weeks and keep what works for you and your goals.
Does it sound too regimented and structured? Really it's not. It's about taking action to put your priorities first. Managing your time effectively is no one’s job but yours, as you stand to benefit from it the most.
I'm an avid researcher and practitioner of time management and results driven activity. If you are hitting roadblocks to achieving your desired results, contact me about some coaching or join me in one of our upcoming mastermind groups or workshops. We'll explore how to unlock more of what you want out of business and life!