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On our weekly Monday morning team call someone mentioned going on vacation when someone else jokingly said “it must be nice to have time to get away”. As a new DCE it feels like we are creating everything from scratch, so time is indeed precious, yet we all need to get away to recharge so we remain effective. This exchange made me think it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the most common time management tactics.
Time is our most precious resource. And whether you’re an executive or just starting your career, it doesn’t change the fact that we all have 24 hours in a day. Summer has a way of making those 24 hours seem even shorter. Even the most dedicated professional finds themselves looking at the clock while trying to power through their time sensitive work as fast as possible so they can head outside and take advantage of summer.
There is good news, you can manipulate time and get the most of your working hours and enjoy your time outside of work to the fullest. We’ve rounded up some of the most impactful time management tactics below.
First, the most effective time-management tactics are about improving efficiencies and maximizing the impact of every minute spent. Not all tasks are equal, and every working hour is precious. Keep results in the forefront of your mind to help you get the most of any productivity tactic.
Second, you must be willing to be real with yourself when it comes to the way you currently spend your time. Are you stuck in a spiral of overcommitment because you’re afraid of saying no? Do you tend to procrastinate or are you a multitasking addict? Assessing the present with honesty and humility is the first step towards building a schedule that allows for more freedom.
1. Keystone Habits
Sometimes getting the most out of your time involves adding more to your schedule. The term was first coined by author Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit. Keystone habits are activities that have a positive effect on all areas of your life: exercise, good sleep, a healthy diet, etc.
We are all guilty of saying and believing we’re too busy to sleep more or squeeze regular workouts into our day. Creating space in our life for these keystone habits will help us feel more energized, focused and productive and get a lot more done in less time.
2.The 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule, states that 80 percent of results tend to be caused by 20 percent of efforts. Think of your most important project and its most crucial deliverables and outcomes. Are you spending most of your time on activities that move the needle towards the successful completion of that project? Or do you regularly get caught up in things like attending meetings with nebulous agendas or answering emails? If you want to get the most out of life, make a habit of thinking of the 80/20 rule when choosing where to direct your energy.
3.The Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique has been around since the late 1980s and adopted by many.
Here’s how it works: Choose a task you’d like to tackle. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task without interruptions. No peeking at email, the internet, or scrolling through social media until the timer rings. When you hear the sound of the timer, take a short break. Walk away from your work area, grab a coffee, glass of water, stepping away from the task keeps you refreshed and focused. After four “pomodoros” you can take a 20-to-30-minute break. You’ll be pleasantly surprised about how much you can accomplish in interruption-free, 25-minute bursts.
Time-blocking is about dividing your calendar into blocks allocated to specific sets of activities. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, you can fight off that feeling of overwhelm by planning in advance how you want to split up your various activities throughout the week.
For example, you might want to dedicate half a day to strategic, creative work during a moment of the week when you know there will be fewer distractions and you’ll be refreshed energy-wise. You could also choose to have regular times blocked off for admin-related tasks or meetings with your team. But in order for this method to work, you need to be strict about your commitment to yourself and avoid doing things like booking last-minute meetings during your time blocks.
5.Regular task audits
I love to-do lists as well as knowing what should never be on my list. Things that should be delegated. Are there outdated tasks that should be eliminated? Do your goals and priorities need to be revised based on changing circumstances? The most productive people in the world know that time-management efforts require continuous awareness as well as adaptability and flexibility. It’s a fast-paced world, and whatever was important and relevant a few weeks ago might not be anymore.
Regularly auditing your schedule and taking note of your top-of-mind concerns and whether they are still aligned with the current state of events will go a long way in keeping you effective and stress-free.