By guest blogger Mary Kelly, Ph.D.
By better managing your time, you can free up 30 minutes every day while increasing your productivity at work, working more effectively, and decreasing your stress level.
Being Busy Doesn’t Mean You Are Being Effective
You may be busy, but are you really getting work done? Are you effective? Are you accomplishing? Many people waste too much time organizing random thoughts, second-guessing themselves, and not focusing on the task at hand. The interesting part? Most people don’t even realize it.
This leads to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated.
According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, the majority of Americans suffer from moderate or high stress. A shocking 44% claim their stress levels have increased over the past five years. Topping the list of stressors includes worry over money, work, the economy, family responsibilities, and relationships.
How do you reduce stress and do what you need to get done? Give yourself more time!
5 Secrets to Having More Time
The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night. (We really do function best on enough sleep. Give your brain the sleep it needs and it will reward you with higher concentration and productivity at work and at home.) That leaves you with 17 hours each day. How can you manage that time effectively?
1. Actively manage time as a resource.
Assign time parameters to each activity you need to complete to make sure no one task is getting too much attention. Plan your day the night before, use a calendar, and budget minutes. Carve out the time you need to get tasks finished, and stay focused until it is complete. Actually making a list so that you can cross off the completed items helps some people stay focused and motivated.
2. Manage your time spent on email and social media.
Resist the temptation to respond to every bit of email as soon as it arrives. Try to limit yourself to checking and responding to email just 3-5 times per day. I find I get distracted answering one email that leads to another email that leads to doing a Facebook update then I decide to write a blog and while I am there I might as well also post on LinkedIn and Tweet. Set aside a time, assign yourself a time limit, and stop when the time is up.
3. Limit distractions.
Phones, computers, coworkers, family, and my latest distraction, Words With Friends (oh, I love that game!) all provide endless distractions that take your mind off work. Plan your workspace to avoid these distractions. Clear your desk. Close your office door. Wear headphones. Stand up when people come by to engage you in idle chatter. Don’t have a chair for visitors in your office. Stay away from Angry Birds and people who want to be computer farmers.
4. Use 60 second increments.
Allowing your brain to rest for even 60 seconds allows it to refresh and prepare to work more effectively. If you find you are not 100% engaged in your work, give your brain some much needed rest and be amazed at how it rewards you in time-management and increased productivity. Try a one minute yoga breathing exercise. Get up and stretch. Touch your toes (or get as close as you can). Close your eyes for 60 seconds and dream of vacation. If your mind is still wandering, give your brain a sprint. Look at the clock and give yourself a minute to fully focus on what you are doing. Think about focusing for just one minute. Then increase it to 2 minutes. You can use this exercise to increase reading ability, to plow through paperwork you just don’t want to do (think, “I am going to get as much of this done in one minute as I can, ready, set go!”), and to increase overall focus.
5. Take time to enjoy your day.
Hard workers think they are optimizing time-management by eating at their desk and continuing to work, but they are just bringing one more distraction to their workspace. Take a little time to eat a healthy lunch, give your brain a rest, do something unrelated to work, and you will find that you will be better prepared to focus. Or use that time to take a walk. Go outside. Walk around the parking lot. Read a magazine. Plan a lunch with friends. Giving yourself an intended, enjoyable distraction also serves to renew energy.
Managing your most precious resource, your time, increases your productivity, allows you to feel better, gives you more energy, and saves time.
Mary Kelly, Ph.D., is an internationally-acclaimed leadership and communication expert. Her clients include the FBI, Aramark, numerous universities, and more than 70 insurance companies. Mary is the author of four books, including 360 Degrees of Leadership, 15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy, and the award-winning Master Your World: 10 Dog-Inspired Leadership Lessons to Improve Productivity. To learn more or to contact Mary, visit www.productiveleaders.com.