• Terry Parnell

Effectively Manage Your Time

Tips on Increasing Productivity: How to Effectively Manage Time

24 hours. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. That is all the time that we have in a day. Despite recently hearing a story about someone documenting a 25-hour workday, there is no way to add time to our day despite our best efforts. Our days are constantly filled with frequent interruptions, meetings, unexpected emergencies, meetings, technical glitches, and meetings. Did I mention meetings? So, how do we take those 24 hours and make the most of our days? Here are a few tips on how to effectively manage our time, so that we can spend those key hours with our families, on those house projects we have pushed off, or even those hobbies that we haven’t done in years.

Create a to-do list. I love to-do lists. Ask anyone at Solutions AEC. You can typically find a quarter sheet of paper with a list of daily to-do items on my desk. Use this list to plan out your day. Break it down into accomplishable tasks or even utilize Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants of Time Management to prioritize your tasks. Focus on the tasks that will provide the most benefit. And to effectively take advantage of to-do lists, keep them up-to-date.

Do it now. Is there a task that can be taken care of in about five minutes or less that will not cause a greater interruption in what you are working on now? If so, do it now. Sometimes, it may take longer to circle back to complete the task rather than to just get it done now. In addition, utilize small windows of time to complete tasks. Say you have fifteen minutes prior to a meeting – not enough time to start on a project or longer task. Instead of seeking out water cooler conversation, find a small task to complete.

Delegate. Andy Stanley stated, “The less you do the more you enable others to accomplish.” Leaders need to focus on what they are good at and allow others to focus on their strengths to make a more well-round organization. They may even be more able to work on an item than you are. Grow the organization and transfer roles and responsibilities by using the Five Steps of Leadership Development.

  1. I do. You watch. We talk.

  2. I do. You help. We talk.

  3. You do. I help. We talk.

  4. You do. I watch. We talk.

  5. You do. We talk.

  6. You do. Someone else watches.

Rinse and repeat.

Manage your emails. An average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily. At SAEC’s office size, that equates to over 4,000 emails coming in and 1,200 emails going out each day. Here are some strategies we employ here. Keep active emails in inbox until completed – use your inbox as your to-do list. Once your respond to that email or determine that no response is required, move to a project folder within Outlook. Take advantage of Outlook features. Schedule client contacts and follow-ups in Outlook. Utilize task management in Outlook – setup group tasks for individual project teams.

Have productive and meaningful meetings. If you are the leader of a meeting, take the time and prep. During the meeting, keep everyone on point (limit sidebars) and keep the group focused on the agenda. Have frequent short huddles with team members to discuss schedules and intermediate deadlines.

Limit interruptions. Schedule time away from the office to focus. Have a do not disturb sign. Put your phone away and stay off of social media. Social media can be an effective measure of networking but can also be huge distraction. One study found that every single time you get distracted, it takes on average 25 minutes to get refocused. This study also found that it can eat about 2.5 hours of work productivity every single day. What could you do with these extra 70 hours each month?

Effective time management can lead to greater productivity and efficiency. It can also lead to less stress and increased opportunities for life and career advancement. So, what do you picture yourself doing with all that available extra time out there?

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