I don't know about you, but didn't it seem like there was more time in the day before COVID hit? There were fewer meetings and more time for work. Once we became remote, those conversations we used to have with coworkers as we got coffee or passed by an office, became a meeting. Working remotely, the use of technology like teleconferencing and messaging exploded and today, we are bombarded with back-to-back meetings, notifications, emails, video calls, and never-ending group messages.
The key is no longer just managing time, but also making sure we manage our energy. It is down right exhausting to sort through 300 emails in your inbox, or multiple group chat requests at one time day after day while trying to balance everything else!
Before we dig into how to manage your time, let’s look at how people spend their time at work.
So, how can you use your time effectively? Here are 10 tips that can help you stay more focused on your priorities and manage your energy throughout the day:
- Identify 2-3 big goals that are critical for you to accomplish this year. What are the most important things that you want to achieve? If you haven't already, write those things down and keep them visible.
- Take some time to think about the activities that are going to help you achieve those goals. For example, is spending 3 hours a day responding to email going to help you increase revenue by 15%? Probably not! What are the most important activities that will get you there?
- Next, figure out who should be doing those activities. Is it something only you can do, or can you delegate it? Try to keep yourself focused on those things that only you should be doing and make it a priority to delegate tasks to your team if possible. This is a great way to stretch and develop people on your team as well.
- Block time on your calendar for your most important activities. I call them "Big Rocks". What are the big rocks that you must have dedicated time to accomplish? Those are the things that you need to plan for and ensure you have time on the calendar to accomplish them!
- Don't sort all the gravel! Gravel is the little stuff that builds and takes all our time. Checking email, allowing distractions, etc. Put dedicated time on your calendar to check email. This will help you stay on track throughout your day. Email is our #1 distraction in most cases. If you find yourself checking email whenever you get a notification, you are being pulled away from the key thing you were working on. When we do this, we lose our positive momentum, and then it feels even more daunting to start that important task again.
- Sitting in front of a computer all day without moving is bad for your brain! Put time on the calendar in the morning and afternoon to get up and move. It can be a as simple as walking a lap around the office building or doing 20 quick jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever works for you. Movement gets oxygen circulating, which helps flush out cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies. Your brain will thank you if you incorporate movement during the day.
- Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to see how you did. Were you able to stay focused on your priorities? If not, what got in the way? What adjustments do you need to make for tomorrow?
- Use rules and alerts in Outlook. Set up rules that can help you file certain emails, so they don't clog up your inbox. For example, senders that you know copy you on stuff as an FYI could all go into a folder called "FYI". You can set that up, so email does that work for you.
- Keep all notes in one place. There are many, many note taking apps available today. OneNote is a great one that allows you to tag, file, and organize your notes easily. Even if you just use good ole pen and paper, make it a point to keep your notes in one place so you aren't searching for random note pads or post it notes. Searching for notes can end up taking hours over the course of a month if you aren't organized.
- Take care of yourself! There are many ways we can do that, but a few great ones are:
- Make sure you are getting quality sleep
- Drink a lot of water throughout the day
- Get those bouts of exercise to get oxygen moving
- Start your day with gratitude! What are you grateful for? Think about those things each morning and you put yourself in a positive mindset from the get-go!
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