For many of us, one of the key lessons from the past few months has been a new appreciation of time. For some, the shutdown of schools, gyms, restaurants and team sporting activities offered a breather from our jam-packed schedules. For others, setting up the office at home blurred the boundary between business and pleasure, with work days morphing into work nights and work weekends. As our lives slowly return to normal, mindset is the key to managing our time more effectively. Read on for 9 effective time management techniques!
Our time is the most precious resource we have, and we need to start treating it as such. Like our money, we need to invest our time for the greatest possible return. Think about where you want to invest your time for the day, and where you will get the biggest bang for your buck.
Every activity performed comes at a cost, and understanding the four different costs can help you find the driver you need to ensure your time is well spent.
Your time is money. Work out your hourly rate and apply that to each task you perform.
If your rate is A$50/hour, and you spend one hour each day on Facebook, that’s A$18,250 of your time spent on Facebook every year.
Each time you perform an activity is a trade-off for something else you could have done with that time. Could you have made more progress on a report than you did by attending that meeting? Would investing in a cleaner enable you to swap housework for something you love?
If you feel guilty choosing an after-work function over an event at your child’s school, or feel stressed because you spent 15 minutes talking to a colleague about their personal issues when you could have used that time to be on the phone to a client, that is the emotional cost of your decision.
Does the way you spend your time leave you in physical pain?
If staying at the computer instead of taking your lunchtime walk means you’ll have back pain that will interrupt your sleep, your time may have been better spent taking your break and giving your back a reprieve, so you’re not tired and sore the next day.
Most of us have an optimism bias when it comes to planning. We often significantly underestimate how long something will take us. Our advice? Double the time you allocate.
We should treat our brains like we would our wardrobes and bookshelves – stuff any of them to the point of overflowing, and it becomes more difficult, and time-consuming, to get what we want out of them.
80 per cent capacity is ideal, and sustainable, because it leaves us room to cope with the unexpected.
Design your day
Too often our days are dictated by emails or other people’s agendas. Conscious planning of our workload is best, by breaking it into selective batches.
The key is to identify those hours of the day when we work most effectively, and to reserve them for our hardest and most important high-value tasks.
High-value tasks are those that reflect your skill level and are either revenue-generating or cost-reducing. Low value tasks tend to be below our skill level, cost-inducing or easily delegated or rejected.
Our biggest time killers are multitasking and interruptions.
If we have our email alerts continually pinging, or if we toggle between screens or projects, we are probably not working at our most productive. In fact, multitasking can reduce our productivity by up to 40 per cent.
Allocate blocks of time to check in on all those “I want” or “I need” emails, rather than monitoring them all day. Emails are someone else’s to-do list.
We also need to beware of the time saboteur. Professionals are interrupted every eight minutes, and it can take them up to 23 minutes to get back on track. Protect your precious high-performance hours by saying “no” to interruptions.
Just as it is important to start the day strong, we should also give attention to the way we finish our day.
Set aside at least 30 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on what we have accomplished, plan how we will use our protected hours and consider whether there is anything we can do now to alleviate the pressure in the morning – even choosing what to wear the next day.
Don’t wait to get to work to decide how to spend the best two hours of our day.
Our brains continue to work while we’re asleep, so if we have decided what we need to do the next day, we can wake up ready to hit the ground running.
By consciously deciding what we are doing with our day, instead of just operating out of default, we can get off the vicious cycle and onto a productive cycle.
At DGL, our goal is to save you time (and tax of course), improve your efficiency and increase your profits so you reach your goals sooner. Every client and business is unique and our Accountants take the time to understand you and your financial situation to achieve your goals. If you would like to get your life back on track, we are here to help you – get in touch!
Effective time management techniques brought to you by In The Black and DGL Accountants.