Think back to the last time you had to deal with essential but dull paperwork. If you checked the clock after three hours to find that the hands had only moved through fifteen minutes or so, then you’re not alone. You will also have noticed that days out and holidays race by. There’s a good reason for this – clock time might measure seconds, minutes and hours, but it can’t measure our perception of time; this is best measured by what we think, what we say, and what we do.
And make it clear that do not disturb really does mean do not disturb when necessary.
#2 Plan your day before you start – if you have a tendency to scattergun your efforts, or worse still, attempt to multitask your way through the day without structure, it’s unlikely to be terribly productive.
If you’re not terribly effective at managing your time (or even if you are!), record everything
Everything you think, everyone you talk to, and everything you get done – you’ll soon be able to identify the time-wasting elements of your day.
No one is perfect at managing their time, however, so don’t forget to factor in time that’s there just to ‘waste’, either through interruptions, or unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
Use an appointment book instead, even if you’re only scheduling appointments with yourself – that’s probably the most effective use of at least half the time available in your working day. Also, however much of a gadget-freak you might be, you can’t beat the simple act of pen to paper when planning your own appointments.
Once you have a clearer idea of what’s producing results, make sure that your personal appointment book is at least half-full of the thinking time, interactions, and activities that are productive.
It’s not always easy to get everything out of a phone call that you planned, especially if you feel under time-pressure to make the call and rush into it – make sure you have a few minutes before the call to jot down on paper what you want or need to get out of the conversation, and even rehearse it in your head. In addition, spend a few minutes once the call is complete to think about how it went, and if there was anything you missed and could incorporate in future.
While we’re on the subject of the phone, you’re not obliged to answer it – turn your mobile to silent, and mute your email notifications. Make appointments for these too, and you’re immediately minimising interruptions.
If your business depends on an always-on presence, you may need to give people your immediate attention, but otherwise, use scheduling software to deal with your business social media presence.
– this is probably the most important lesson to learn for effective time management, so don’t allow the thought that you haven’t achieved everything you planned for make you achieve even less.