You can often hear managers saying “I don’t have enough time”.
People often try to squeeze as many tasks as they can into the work week. This is because as we all know, time is money.
Correct, time is money, but only if you can do something valuable with your time. That’s why you need to manage time better.
How to manage time better
The problem with trying to claim time back from your day is that you might upset people. “You can’t just turn off your phone”. I get that, you often can’t be uncontactable for long periods, especially in certain jobs.
However, concentrating on the most distracting forms of communication can be a good way to manage time better.
1. Manage time better by working in offline mode
It’s important to understand which communication methods are the most distracting in your day. For me, it is most definitely email. Email can come from anywhere at any time, without any sense of priority. If somebody calls you, generally it’s because they need to discuss something right now. But with email, it is up to you to determine it’s priority as it sits in your full inbox.
It could be a message telling everyone about the next Christmas party. Or an email telling people to clean the kitchen. Maybe it’s a message from someone who you weren’t even thinking about.
In other words, emails are often unrelated to the task that you want to work on right now. A simple solution is to work in offline mode for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. You generally don’t have to reply to email straight away. This means you can get to it later, when you have time.
Put your email into offline mode to focus on your current priorities. You’ll be amazed at the difference to your productivity.
2. Manage time better by getting away from your desk
It is amazing how easy it is to withdraw from your desk from time to time. Generally, this has no major impact on anybody.
You know how when somebody calls in sick or goes to a funeral, everybody leaves them alone for the day? The world still turns, and people reprioritise or do the work regardless.
I’m not suggesting you say you’re at a funeral or take a sick day. However, sometimes booking a meeting room for yourself and working privately for an hour is a great way to work. People can’t find you at your desk, so they just wait until they see you again instead.
The best part is, when somebody asks where you were, you can honestly say, “I was in a meeting”. And it will probably be one of the most productive meetings you’ll have, because it was with yourself!
3. Manage time better by setting priorities for the next day
Many people let others choose their priorities for them. The problem with this approach is that most of the time, other people don’t know what your priorities are. They are focused on their own tasks.
Recently I’ve started writing down my priorities for the next day, before I leave work. This means that when I arrive in the morning, I am immediately aware of what I need to do for the day.
Failing to set priorities this way leads to reactive behaviour, where you jump from task to task, because you haven’t understood the important work you need to do.
When you combine setting priorities with working offline, this can be a powerful way to accomplish the work that really needs to be done. Before turning the email back on and being bombarded with communication.
The only way you’ll ever get what you need done is by understanding your own priorities and carving out time to make sure you accomplish them. Start to manage time better today.