Talking about work-life balance is one thing, but achieving it is another – especially when we are faced with a host of distractions, annoyances and other people’s workflow: all affecting our time management.
So here’s a list of some of the main time-stealers, and a few ideas of how to reclaim those minutes, so you can get out of the office on-time on a Friday evening!
Endless Emails / Poor Email Etiquette
> Introduce/suggest an email policy in your office, to cut down on silly emails, unnecessary CC’ing and better use of subject line. If everyone agrees to it, you’ll all save a huge chunk of time dealing with those inboxes.
> Check your email at set times during the day, then turn it off for the rest of the time.
You can find out more about blog posts about email techniques here
> Just say no kids. Seriously, there are a host of ways you can get out of meetings you don’t really need to go to. A polite email saying you’re too busy to attend, BUT offering some advice or input within the message can go a long way! Find more meeting-get-out’s here
> Rethink the meetings you do need to have. Why do they always have to be 2 hours long and in the board room? How about a standing-huddle, where you deal with the issues quickly? How about collaborating on the issue via an online document, instead of face to face? (more suggestions here)
Office Distractions (people stopping you from getting things done)
> A good pair of headphones will ultimately drown out the noise of the office gossip, and significantly reduce interruptions as people will be less likely to approach you unless it’s genuinely important.
> Have a visual guide to warn your workmates that you are not to be distracted. Encourage them all to do the same, and they might appreciate the benefits of some distraction free time!
Procrastination (stopping yourself from getting things done)
> Try the Pomodoro Technique – use a timer to give yourself 45 minutes of really focused time. It’s amazing how much you’ll get done. (advanced Pomodoro Technique here)
> Just get started. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, but if you can get the first word written or that first phone call made, it’s all downhill from there! (read out Ninja Grace Marshall’s posts on Starting Now)
Tools are there to help us get things done, but our obsession with them can occasionally become a distraction. These tools should assist our thinking and organising: they don’t replace the need for it.
> Assess each app: does it really help you be more productive or is it just fun to play with? Does it do what you need it to? Does it have the functions you need or the syncing capabilities you need? (more ways to assess your app here)
> Write it down – why worry about phone battery life or bad-syncing, when using a pen and paper could work just as well?
> Screen your calls and don’t answer your phone unless you decide the call is likely to be more important than what you’re currently working on.
> Let the call go to voicemail, and then you can deal with it when it’s convenient to you (plus it lets you prepare any answers they need!)
> Set clear boundaries around things like email, Facebook chat, Skype and Instant Messenger. Get into the habit of being very conscious of when each of these is to be turned on and off.
> Divert all notification emails into a special folder – then set a regular reminder (daily perhaps) for yourself to check that folder, in case there is something important in there!
> Turn off notifications on your phone and desktop
Like this? Try these
Sign up for one of our workshops including:
Getting Things Done Email Etiquette Making Meetings Magic
80 Ways to Steal Valuable Minutes for Your Work Day (Amex)
The Simple Secret to Time Management: Jedi Time Tricks (Lifehacker)