Taming the Time Tangle

Taming the Time Tangle

We can work hard and make a good living and complete projects, but one thing we can’t do is make more hours in the day.

Regardless of what type business you are in, our days are comprised of thinking, conversations and actions.  And there are some factors we can’t totally control during the day. This could be interruptions due to phone calls, questions from customers, and co-workers who need information. You could have the dreaded blue screen of death show up on your PC. You could have a team member out sick. Your boss might come in with a priority project that wasn’t on your schedule.

While there are some things you can’t control, there are many factors that are within our control. A great tip is to put a sign on your door that you can’t be disturbed from x time to y time. This will limit the distractions from people who just want to stop in and see how your day is going.

You have to plan. Start the day with a priority list. Try not to jump project to project. Limit your distractions caused by email or web surfing. Pick designated times during the day to check messages and respond. Turn off your notifications so that you aren’t compelled to look every time a new message comes in. One of my best tips is to touch an email only once. You can delete it. You can set it aside to respond later if you need follow-up information or time to think about your response. Save it for reference later or respond to it immediately. Don’t open and close them over and over throughout the day.

Procrastination is also a big problem. All of us are tempted at times to put something we don’t really enjoy or want to do.

Think about it – we try to spend about eight hours a day sleeping. We spend about an hour a day on personal care (some of us more). Typically, we spend about eight and a half hours at work. Then there is the time we spend taking care of family, chores, and the house. This accounts for another 5 hours each day. That’s at least 22 hours. What are you going to give up to find more time for a project or personal passion that requires more than what is typically allotted?

There’s a few ways you can tackle the schedule nightmare that will free up pockets of time you need.

  1. Make sure you are setting goals. Give them deadlines and identify all of the steps you think need to be in place to successfully complete your mission. Once you have the list of goals, you need to prioritize them.
  2. When you start prioritizing them, make sure you list them from most important to least important, not based on which you will enjoy working on most. Handle things once. Someone once told me to either do it, delegate it or dump it. That is terrific advice.
  3. Quit procrastinating. If you find yourself saying, “I’ll do it later.” Stop. Break the difficult tasks up into manageable chunks. Establish time slots to deal with each slot. Put harder tasks in the time blocks where you are most productive. Reward yourself along the way. Get your favorite coffee. Treat yourself to a nice lunch out of the office instead of eating in.
  4. Scheduling is important. Leave gaps in your schedule for things that pop up in the day. Use one calendar for work, family and personal appointments. That way you don’t overlook or cross book your day. If you hold meetings adhere to a time schedule. Others will respect the fact you respect their time as well. Stick to a start and stop time.
  5. Finally, take the last 30 minutes of your day to plan tomorrow. That way you’ll come in with a plan in place and be ready to tackle what’s in front of you.

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