The longer we spend in the workforce, the more experience we get. The more experience we get, the more responsibility we have. The more responsibility we have, the more ‘stuff’ you have to get done and oversee.
Not only do we have more ‘stuff’ to deal with, we also have more interruptions and distractions to deal with. According to a study the average business owner will be interrupted every three minutes – that’s 20 times an hour! Some of these will be minor interruptions, but according to the same study, bigger issues interrupt at a rate of 4 per hour!
So we have to come up with methods to stay on track and on top of the important ‘stuff’. Here are some tips to do exactly that:
1. Prioritise your to do list
An oldie, but a goldie. Every time management book, etc., will include this tip. But how do you prioritise effectively? I advise my business coaching clients to ask themselves a simple question – does this task put me closer to achieving my goal/objective/KPI? Or is it something I can leave to a later time when things aren’t so hectic? Then ask the follow up question: does the task service the most important goal/objective/KPI? You will also be amazed at how much of the smaller less important stuff will end up getting done by magic along the way, when you focus on more important stuff.
Sounds simple, amiright? Because it is! I remember as a young lad, one of my chores to earn pocket money was to do some gardening – turning soil, pulling weeds out, cutting the lawn. It was hard work and I would much rather do other things, like hang out with my friends – so I kept putting it off until the last minute, when I knew that if I didn’t do it then I wouldn’t get any money. Eventually I would start. Once I got into it, gardening wasn’t too bad and in fact it was quite rewarding, because I could instantly see the fruits of my toil and felt some pride. So my advice is just start and you will find ways to get it done, no matter how hard it may seem.
Close your door if you have to. Turn your phone off if you have to. Close your email application(s). Stay with the job. If you can get it done in just one sitting, it will be the most efficient use of your time, because you will not need to keep trying to pick up threads of where you left off if you never leave off.
4. Quieten your mind.
Our mind is a wonderful thing, but it can also be an absolute nuisance and can just throw random thoughts into our heads. It does this because the brain has a massive capacity and we only use 10% (max) of that capacity at any one time – so the mind gets bored and decides to spice things up with some garbage to amuse itself.
“How can I quieten my mind?” I hear you say. Well, one thing that works for me and oddly for a lot of people is to listen to some baroque music. Baroque music is at 60 beats per minute, which is slightly less than the normal resting beat of the human heart and therefore has a calming effect. It is also quite complex, in that each phrase of music is only repeated once, so the sub-conscious part of the brain becomes engaged in trying to figure out what is going to happen next and therefore it doesn’t have time to misbehave and send out random thoughts. You will also feel ever so sophisticated and refined! Give it a go and you will be pleasantly surprised.
5. Focus on the top five.
It is hard to keep a handle on everything and if you are to do anything well, you will need to focus. So don’t put more than five things on your plate at a time. Everything else can be delegated to someone else or go into a backlog. When you have completed a task, then you can bring something in from the backlog – in order of priority of course.
There are lots more things you can do to manage your time better, but in keeping with my own advice I am only going to give you these five to start with J More will follow, watch this space….
 Dr. Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California
Image source: By Sapphiredge (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons