Time management is the buzzword. I feel though, each of us have the same 24 hours in a day. That equates to 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. No one gets more. No one gets less. It’s how we manage the TASKS for that day that will help us realize whether we have been productive or whether we have taken control of our day.
If you’re faced with a never-ending to-do list and deal with interruptions all day long whether from colleagues walking into your office, social media updates, phone calls, emails, sometimes it seems impossible to get to your tasks. Working from home doesn’t get rid of those distractions or interruptions, it just brings with it unique challenges that you need to manage along with your tasks.
There are days when time may seem endless, it’s not. Time is a limited quantity and how you “spend” it shapes how productive and satisfied you are with your business and your life. How can you use your time to complete your tasks to best advantage?
Here are some steps I take on a daily basis:
- Block out interruptions. If you work in an office, it may be difficult to tell colleagues to not stop by, but you may be able to set “office hours” and let them know that in order to be productive you need to limit interruptions. They may appreciate your dedication to your duties! Working from home brings with it its own set of interruptions — whether from laundry to be done or from family members that believe that since you work from home you aren’t truly working.
- Don’t respond to emails as soon as they arrive. Set aside time several times throughout the day to answer emails and respond to social media updates. Once you open your email and read one, act on it. Don’t skip over it and think, “I’ll get to that later.” Get to it now. Only touch your messages one time. Respond. Delete. Forward to someone else. Whatever action it is, do it and be done with it.
- Don’t check email first thing in the morning. Once I stopped doing that, my productivity soared. Why? Reading emails first thing put me into reactive mode and had me on edge. I schedule my email check ins after I have been at work for about two hours. I don’t check my phone, I don’t open Gmail or Outlook. When I began this practice I told my clients I would not check emails until 10 am and if they had something crucial before then they could text me. So far, no texts.
- Commit to your own personal time. If possible differentiate your office time and your personal time. Those who work from home may have a more difficult time separating the two, but it is necessary to have a work-life balance. Set office hours and stick to them, once your office hours are over, don’t answer business phone calls or personal emails.
- Before you leave the office – whether a work office or a home office – prepare your to-do list for the following day. Being organized before you even set foot in the office the next day will make you more productive. Don’t forget to check off what you’ve accomplished today.
Managing time effectively may not be a skill you learn over night but it is a skill that will serve you well for a lifetime. What can you do to better manage your tasks? Remember, time and the clock will continue moving on.