Everyone, even you, has only 24 hours in a day. What you do with that time has such an impact on how you feel about yourself and the job you perform. Witness the days when “it got away from you.” You went to meetings that wasted your time, spent an hour down the Internet Distraction Highway reading stuff that didn’t inspire you and had the opposite impact and took an extra long lunch just to avoid the things you needed to get done.
What’s the answer to creating a new way of using your time? Okay, there is more than one. Here I suggest a couple of key strategies:
- Block out part of your day’s calendar for 90 minutes to do your best work. Best work is best done at your best time. Best time is when our energy is highest. For some that is 7-8:30am; others may be 11-1pm, or others in the late afternoon. I bet you know when your best time is. J Now that you have your best work and best time aligned, choose the work that requires your full attention and uses your strengths and/or expertise. Yes, 90 minutes is not a lot of time out of an eight-hour day, but if you block it off and truly protect it (only check emails once if you have to, none if you can avoid it) you’ll be amazed how much gets done.
- What part of your job excites you the most? Is it the creative part, a new client or project, working with certain team members? When possible, schedule this kind of work in your lower energy times throughout the day, as the innate excitement of the activity can counterbalance your lower energy.
- Become more aware of your time wasters: Long coffee breaks, meetings you don’t need to attend, Internet or socialising. Your task isn’t to stop them altogether; just increase your awareness and notice when they start to be reduced. Bringing them into your consciousness allows you to make a choice. One client who managed an IT shop noticed he was in four hours per week of meetings he truly did not need to attend. Four hours! That’s 10% of his week. He diplomatically extricated himself from the meetings, resulting in one meeting being permanently cancelled. No one had challenged whether the meeting was still needed until he took this step.
- Set your day’s priorities before you check emails. Calm down now… all I am suggesting is that before you open your emails when you arrive at work, jot down some notes on your priorities as you understand them. By checking emails first, someone else sets your priorities before you’ve had a chance. And those emails clog up your fresh morning brain. If you start your day being reactive versus proactive about your goals, you have surrendered control—crucial to your wellbeing, success and happiness—to others.
Try something a little different today, see how it goes and, as always, watch for progress. Please share your own best strategies here in the comments so we can all benefit!