Time management. Clearly it is not a new concept. Take a look at any job description–usually you will find time management skills as a necessary requirement. On resumes and in interviews, potential candidates tout their ability to effectively to manage their time, while high school teachers frighten their students with tales of procrastination induced failures in college. Whether you run a business, work in an office, freelance, or work remotely, time management is a highly desired skillset.
That said, just as clearly, time management skills are something we are all continuously working to obtain, as evidenced by the numerous books and online articles about it. In this digital age, I’d even argue that much of our technology is actually harming our abilities to time manage-at work and at home.
How many people have swiped to unlock their cell phones just to check on one thing, and find that they are still staring at that same screen 20 minutes later?
Social media gets most of the blame for this kind of distraction, but we might not just get swept up in the world of Facebook and Instagram when checking out our phones. Opening the phone can suddenly fill our minds with all of the other tasks that we have to accomplish, which can be overwhelming and result in jumping from task to task. Kaytie Zimmerman explains, “One buzz from a text message can make us think about our reminder list, paying a bill, ordering an item online, checking our calendar, and wishing a friend happy birthday on social media.”
If technology is what may be driving many of our time management issues, how can we overcome that when that same technology is so necessary for our work? Especially for those who work remotely-a computer and a cell phone are usually how they stay connected to employers, co-workers, and clients.
There are plenty of ways to reduce distraction from technology. Here are a few helpful ideas:
Change your phone settings
Apple products now have Screen Time and Google has Digital Wellbeing for their Android Phones. With both of these features you can examine how often you use your phone and for what purpose, as well as set limits for yourself.
Create a phone basket
This is a trick I actually learned from some teenagers in a youth group a few years ago. Whenever the group would get together, they would pass around a basket. Everyone would put their phones in the basket until the end of the evening. This way, the attention was focused on each other and the tasks of meeting rather than interrupted by social media or text message dings.
This same concept can easily be applied to help with time management of an individual-have a phone basket somewhere in your workspace where the phone stays for a set amount of time. Or, this concept could be used when teams need to have meetings-make everyone turn their phone in to a basket as they enter the conference room.
Time management skills do take more than just putting down your phone, however. So, here are some other tips you can follow to make your work day as productive as possible:
Download a time management app
I know we just spent a while discussing limiting our technology, but as you know it’s not all bad. I promise that it can also actually even help you with time management as long as you work on not getting distracted by non work-related things.
There are plenty of apps available to help you with time management. These apps range from scheduling, making lists, to even improving your focus. You can see a review of some of these apps here.
Clear your workspace
Whether this mean you take a few extra minutes at the end of the day, or you get to work a little early, taking the time to clear your work space will make you work more efficiently and save time. Having to spend 15 minutes looking for that draft you were working on is not good time management.
Write down all of the to-dos
David Allen, author of the popular book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, refers to all of the to-dos swimming around your head as open loops or incompletes. When these things are floating in your brain, they bring stress. Write down what you have to do. Not only will it lower your stress level, but you won’t be wasting time trying to remember what you should be doing next.
Figure out your optimal work time
I am at my most productive around 8 a.m. My brother, on the other hand, is more of an afternoon worker. You know those times of day when you are at your sharpest and those times when you are in a slump. To the best of your abilities, use that knowledge to your advantage to schedule meetings and tasks.
Looking for more advice to help your business succeed? Contact us at Lumen Advisory and Finance.