Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs
Every year on the first work day of January, your co-workers
return to their desks with a new plan to transform themselves via their New
Year’s Resolution. Maybe they are mixing
health shakes in the breakroom in place of their lunches, walking through the
halls (or up and down the stairs) in lieu of their typical breaks to sneak in
some exercise or madly chewing nicotine replacement gum to kick the smoking
habit. Whatever their goal might be,
their intentions are good. But, this
year, instead of (yet again) resolving for your health, consider the best New
Year’s resolution of all: resolve to
find more time.
Jim Croce wanted to capture time in a bottle. And, while you can’t actually store time or
increase the minutes of the day, it can seem like you have by increasing your
personal productivity with time management tips. Technology can be a double-edged sword. New software programs and communication
methods promise efficiency and automation. But, on the flip side, they are often coupled with additional steps,
duplicate efforts and yet one more thing you have to check off your daily
list. The time we have left over for
ourselves, for our sanity and for creative thinking gets slashed. We find ourselves reconsidering a glass of
water because too many trips to the restroom can hinder our work efforts. Fear not, and fill up at the water cooler
because real tips for improving your time management do exist.
- Do it
once. The best time management tip I
ever heard was to only touch a piece of paper (or electronic message)
once. If you can answer it and be done
with it within 2 minutes, do it then. No
reason to let this one pile up in your to-do box. Revisiting it later wastes time because it
means re-reading it and re-thinking about it. Do it while it’s fresh in your mind. Check.
your inbox time and emails. This is
an interesting concept and I have heard of companies actually requiring this of
their staff. Consider how often emails
interrupt your work day. You are
feverishly working on a report or compiling data. Your inbox is hot with activity and you see
the incoming messages pop up as you work (Click
here to learn how to disable incoming message alerts in Outlook). Even if you do not open the email, it is
distracting and your mind can turn away from the attention it should be giving
the task at hand into the incoming emails. You might give in to temptation and open your inbox and start
replying. At this moment, you have cut
your personal productivity because when you return to your project, you are
going to have to spend time refreshing yourself as to wear you left off, and
switching gears isn’t that easy.
The solution: try scheduling your inbox
checking and replying to only 2 hours through the day. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. you will check and
reply to your email. At 10 a.m., close
out of your email completely. Don’t turn
it on for anything. Next, re-open your
email and work through the communications at 2 p.m. Once 3 p.m. comes around, close back out of
your email. If necessary, re-open at
4:30 to ensure you didn’t miss anything major before the end of the day. This type of transition can be difficult to
get used to—and maybe you think it won’t work for you in your environment
because your boss requires you to respond immediately. That may be the case, but most emails can
wait a couple of hours for a response, and if you can pitch to your superiors
the need to segment your time and improve your efficiency through this method,
hopefully, they will allow you some freedom to experiment and see if it does
Social… Sometimes. Social Media
time: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google
Plus and other sites are always on. If
you are guilty of incessantly checking your newsfeed or notifications, you are
hindering yourself. Much like you should
schedule your email time, schedule time to check-in and post. Do not leave your browser constantly open. Social media can be a true time suck. Even if managing social media for your
company is part of your work, remember, that it isn’t ALL of your work. Schedule your tweets and posts in advance and
monitor the accounts like you schedule time for your emails. It will make you feel less scattered and will
focus your time.
Technology to your Advantage. If you
are like 90 percent of companies out there, you use Outlook for your
inbox. Outlook comes with some fabulous
tools for managing your messages and inbox to help you sort, prioritize and
schedule your workload as your emails come in. Get familiar with the tools already available to you. Take two hours and set up rules so internal
emails go to a particular folder. If
emails are coming in from your staff, send them to another folder. By pre-sorting your emails, you can save
yourself some hassle and also better segment your work in replying to
them. Another great tool is with Conversation
Clean Up which will put all of your messages in a series into a single
email and delete the ones you no longer need. No longer will you have to sort through messages to make sure you have
all the info—this tool does the work for you.
- Ask for
the Agenda. When you get a meeting
request, no matter who it is from, ask for an agenda. If he meeting organizer doesn’t have one,
you shouldn’t go. Without an agenda,
there is no identified purpose. No one
(aside from maybe the organizer) knows what is being discussed, who is
reporting, what the deliverables are and the desired outcomes. Meetings can be a major time crusher. And if you have ever spent time in a meeting
wondering why you were there, or about the million other things you should be
doing, asking for an agenda before you ever step foot in a meeting is the first
step in ensuring your time is being maximized.
These are just a few of the many ways you can increase your
productivity in the workplace and discover newfound minutes. Maybe you will use this newfound time to
focus on work projects or maybe you will focus on yourself and those
health-related goals you didn’t jump on the bandwagon with at New Years. Whatever you decide to do with it, you still
can’t store it in a bottle, so spend it wisely and enjoy. Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs.
More than 2,300 organizations use PayScale's subscription software to:
- Allocate raises. PayScale Insight allows you to allocate raises based on employee performance and labor budget.
- Attract talent. Price jobs based on your local market and competition.
- Retain employees. Get pay right and show them how you did it. Your employees will be more satisfied to stay.
- Drive performance. Get their salary right so they can focus on doing a good job.
- Be confident. With know-how to talk about comp with anyone.
What are you waiting for?