How to work smarter all the time — and create perfect timing
Would the people you work with, your family and/or your friends, describe you as having “time management issues”? If the answer is yes, welcome to my world. True to the old saying “birds of a feather flock together,” most of my friends like to keep a handle on their own timing and productivity.
Organization experts whom I’ve chatted with suggest making a list of no more than three or four major tasks (jobs) that one hopes (needs) to accomplish during a workday. They also suggest focusing on those major tasks and completing them before beginning new projects. Unfortunately, priorities frequently change at the whim or command of someone else or because of a “Murphy’s Law” situation. The reality is that businesses often have to find ways to stretch time, manage time, and create perfect timing.
I have a couple of friends who help businesses get and stay organized. We’ve had lots of discussions about ways to get through the kinds of “glitches” businesses can encounter in a busy week. Here are some tips they’ve shared for working smarter all the time, and especially during busy times:
- Whenever possible, schedule outside meetings, customer calls, networking groups, and social gatherings for the first thing in the morning or late in the day so that the day’s focus stays on the work at hand. Whenever possible, make lunch dates only within a block or two of the business, and “bundle” trips outside the workplace.
- When you’re on hold, take the time to scan email for important messages or to work on your appointment calendar.
- While waiting for a return call, problem-solve a particular challenge, compose an email, etc.
- Alan Lakein, time management guru and author of How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, suggests using the “Swiss cheese strategy.” Before officially beginning a big job, make holes in the project by doing small parts of it whenever possible.
- Get a jump-start on the next day before leaving work. Consider, plan, and lay out the tools needed to start the morning’s first project. This will help your brain relax at night.
- Follow the quick-task rule by ticking off anything that takes five minutes or less as soon those tasks hit your desk … or delegate them to a team member who will get them done quickly.
Time, the invisible resource, is unique. There is only so much of it. It can’t be replaced. We can’t really manage time. We can only manage ourselves.
The bottom line is that, especially in busy times, while we can’t control how much time we have, we can control how we use it. The real value and purpose of time management in the world of business is to be more effective in our work, to increase productivity, and to help prevent the stress we are subjected to, especially in a busy season. What we gain from managing our time is not more time but a better work life.
Nothing can be done when we’re out of time.
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