Time sheets. Time management. Time pieces (watches and clocks). Timeless. Timecards. Deadlines. Time, both as a measurement and as a concept, is a part of every workday. How we use the time is what matters.
At the beginning of my career, I discovered that my sense of time did not match up with others’. For instance, fulfilling deadlines seemed foreign to most teams. The ability to negotiate deadlines shocked me – the kid who grew up annually hitting the non-negotiable deadline of the county fair. Also, my sense of urgency to complete work was not matched by others whose pace was simply different than mine. Perhaps you’ve run into such time-use dilemmas too.
Some of the daily challenges we face when managing time include the following.
- Interruptions. People. Emails. Phone calls. Texts. All of these are interruptions. Some of the interruptions are a helpful part of a workday while others are time-consuming and take you away from the work that needs to be accomplished. If you are the person with the candy dish in your office, you have invited interruptions. If you constantly check technology for messages, you are creating your own interruptions. What interruptions can you limit? Or bring an end to?
- Information Overload. Technology provides more information that we can consume in any given day. A radio host recently admitted “I have a phone addiction” and said she was committed to not paying so much attention to it. We do have control over information overload. Tune out, turn off, stop subscribing, stop checking email and social media every ten minutes. Determine which information sources given you helpful information and which are consuming your time and energy. What information sources can you let go of this week? You’ll save time!
- Illness – our own, family members, co-workers. Illness is out of our control. Our ability to work is affected by our own and others’ health. The key is to stay as healthy as possible so that your time is used for greatest productivity and enjoyment.
- Institutional culture. A hospital client shares that their hours really begin at ten minutes after the hour – meaning that a 2:00 p.m. meeting will begin at 2:10 p.m. This is their culture. Another client shares that meetings without assignments and conclusions happen on a regular basis which means that the same meeting discussions repeat for weeks and months on end. This is an unproductive practice and culture. Yet another entity reports that deadlines are never met and always renegotiated; often adding costs to production and sometimes having fines placed on their work due to being late. What is your company culture about time and time use?
Time-saving tips allow you to recover your day and reclaim your life.
- Take the candy dish out of your office.
- Remove the guest chair from your office.
- Use the two-minute rule. If in two minutes you haven’t figured out what someone needs from you – whether in person or on the telephone – ask “How can I help?” or “What’s up? Is there something I can be helpful with?”
- Ask for meeting agendas. If the meeting leader doesn’t provide an agenda, consider excusing yourself from the meeting and asking for the meeting minutes/assignments to be emailed to you.
- Group like items together. You’ll get more done in less time.
- File hardcopy items when the computers go down – which inevitably they do.
- Walk and talk to solve a problem. Doing so saves time over sitting down in an office or meeting room.
Time. It’s yours to use or lose. Select two ideas for protecting your time.
Workplace: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. – Jana