In this blog, I will discuss ways to improve your time management habits and ways you can eliminate distractions from our day that cause stress and unproductivity.
Be proactive with your time:
“Lack of planning is the cause of many failures.”– Brian Tracy
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to prepare your schedule for the following day. List all important activities and appointments. This will help you understand how much you need to complete the following day, expose any schedule conflicts, and allow for rescheduling if necessary. Being prepared for tomorrow helps eliminate unnecessary anxiety about what the next day will bring and how you will get it all done. Preparing your schedule in advance puts you in control of your time.
Stay focused on your job:
“Think of many things; do one.” Portuguese proverb
Staying task focused can be difficult in today’s office environment. Distractions from coworkers, emails, phone calls, text messages, and social media compete for our attention every minute. Too many distractions can cause us to be unproductive and inaccurate. Dr. Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of CA, Irvine, says it takes an average of 23 minutes for a person to regain focus on a task after being distracted. If you are easily distracted, try some of the following tips.
- Close your office door for a part of the day to avoid inner office distractions. If you work in an open-office, try working from home or at a library when you are time pressed to complete an important assignment.
- Arrive at the office early or stay late to avoid the peak office hours. I have found that my concentration and productivity increases significantly after my coworkers are gone for the day.
- Temporarily turning off your phone and disabling email notifications is helpful to stay focused while working. Checking and returning phone calls and emails in 30 to 60 minute intervals throughout the day will allow you to be more efficient.
- There are times when you may want to avoid lengthy conversations with coworkers that are unrelated to work. Extended conversations about the weather or the big game wastes precious time. Limiting non-work related conversations can improve your productivity, and also your coworkers.
Don’t waste time:
“My most favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear the most important resource we have is time.” – Steve Jobs
We only have the limited amount of time, so we need to use it wisely. The Overload Research Group estimates that U.S. workers waste about 25% of their time with non-work related activities, costing their employers $997 billion a year. They found that the average employee spends at least an hour a day on personal email, text messaging, social media, and surfing the internet. Given the blurred-lines between personal and business communications and the use of smartphones in the office environment, it is difficult to monitor and enforce policies on their use. A better way is to encourage personal restraint. If you find yourself wasting time on your smart phone here are a few tips to help manage it.
- Break the habit of checking your smartphones during meetings or in the presence of coworkers and customers.
- Turn off your smartphone or leave it in your car when you have a deadline. Turn off the cellular data, which will allow you to receive phone calls, but not allow access to the internet.
- Make a commitment not to use social media during business hours. If necessary, remove social media applications from your smart phone.
- Schedule a personal email/social media check-in time once or twice a day during your lunch hour or break time.
We all need rest:
“You can’t soar with the eagles if you are hooting with the owls.” – Unknown author.
Physical and mental rest is the most commonly overlooked aspects of health. If we expect to perform at our best during the weekdays, we need to take time to rest at night and on the weekends. Even if you eat well and exercise, but do not get proper rest you may be damaging your health and affecting your quality of life. Even missing 1 hour of sleep can have a negative impact on you attentiveness. Lack of sleep can affect your ability process information and lead to making bad decisions. Sleep loss can contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. According to the AAA Foundation, 21% of all fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. Just as we need to make an effort to get physical exercise, we need to be proactive in getting rest. Here are some suggestions on how to make time for rest:
- A day of rest. Take a day each week to rest from your work. Spend time with family, go to church, read a book, pray or meditate, choose an activity that will bring you physical and mental rest.
- Establish a regular sleep time that will allow you at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Create an optimal sleep environment. Be sure to turn the television off and put down the smartphone after a designated sleep time.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages late in the day that could affect your quality of sleep.
- Take a 15-minute break in the middle of the day to go for a walk or listen to music. Taking a short break is a good way to refresh our focus, creativeness and motivation.
- Regular exercise is important for good sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
Exercise for tomorrow:
“It doesn’t matter how slow you go just don’t stop.” Confucius
No schedule is complete without including time to exercise. In fact, exercise may be the most important thing we do all day to improve our quality of life for tomorrow. There are immediate and long-term health benefits from physical activity. Exercise helps control our weight, reduces the risk of diseases, improves our mood and tolerance for stress, increases our energy levels, and supports better sleep just to name a few benefits. Starting an exercise routine can be fun. Here are a few things to consider:
- Shoot for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
- Start small and gradually increase your exercise intensity. This way you will not become discouraged or injure yourself. Start with 10 minutes per day and gradually work up to 30 minutes or more.
- Find an exercise partner to keep you motivated. We are more likely to stick with an exercise program if we can enjoy social interaction along the way.
- Keep a journal of your activities so you can track your improvements. Note how you feel before and after exercising. Measure your waistline and weigh yourself regularly to monitor your progress.
- Pick up a hobby that is going to get you moving. Try walking, hiking, biking, running or swimming. Doing a physical activity you enjoy will make your workout routine easier to maintain.
- Make exercise a priority. Wake up a few minutes earlier, or sneak away over the lunch hour for a workout. Nothing in your schedule should be more important than exercise.
Sales – Twin Cities
References: WebMD.com, Floridahospital.com, Clevelandclinic.org. Sleepfoundation.org, CDC.gov, Huffingtonpost.com, Betterliving.vic.gov.au, Mayoclinic.org. AAA.com, Mindtools.com