I recently had one of those days, that while I was incredibly busy, by the end of the day I really felt like I had accomplished next to nothing. Thinking back on my day, I realized it had been consumed with all of the minor things that I had to do and usually complete every single day. Tasks like making or ordering food, eating said food, washing clothes, brushing my teeth, helping my kids with their various requests, cleaning up, etc. The list goes on and on for things that we need to do on a daily basis, items that are impossible to avoid, but can end up consuming much of our day.
Being at work does not spare you from these time-consuming tasks and can actually make you feel as if you are being productive, when in reality, they are insignificant. They do not really contribute to any success or advantage within your business. How many times a day do you wade through your email inbox just to delete a bulk of what comes in? How much time do you spend searching for passwords to websites or applications because of the need to make them so secure, that you can’t ever remember what passwords you chose? Do you often feel like you are doing so much, but at the same time accomplishing so little?
There are so many time wasters that don’t seem to add up to much when you’re in-the-moment. However, if you think back over the past few days you may come to realize that they take up more time than they really should, and I want to let you know that you can get this time back.
Top 4 Ways to Take Your Time Back:
Strategize on a Daily and Weekly Basis
Making a plan of what you are going to work on the next day is the best start to being more strategic and successful with your days. Before you leave the office, think of three tasks that you want to accomplish the following day, whether it be finishing financial reports, calling X-number of potential clients, networking with a colleague, etc. They don’t even have to be major accomplishments, but they should be a bit more strategic to help you and your business get ahead.
Similarly, at the end of the week, you should plan a list of strategic “to-dos” for the following week that will help you stay focus. It’s impossible to capture every task you do but you should prioritize the activities that are most important. These are going to be high-value activities. Write these in plain sight so you can see them daily and have a constant reminder of important tasks. You won’t get everything accomplished that week, but you will get a few of the items crossed off your list.
Know Your Time Wasters
The best offense is a great defense. Look back on the last few days to pick out the activities that have taken up large chunks of time. Can’t remember? Start a daily log and write down everything you do. Did you check your phone for a text? Write it down. Make a cup of coffee for yourself? Write it down. Surf the web for a bit? Write it down. This is a personal log just for you so write down everything so you can get a better sense of what activities are taking up a good portion of your day. Once you know this, you can easily come up with a game plan to tackle the problems.
Some Time Wasters You May Experience
- Handling email and spam
- Searching for and handling passwords for the variety of websites/applications you use
- Computers not processing requests in a timely manner
- Distraction by social media and web browsing
- 5-minute phone calls that go 30+ minutes
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!
Now that you have a list of items you know you need or want to get accomplished, as well as those tasks that you do so frequently that waste so much of your time, schedule your day/week. What is the best time for you to think strategically? Is it in the morning? If so, schedule all your strategic items for the morning so you can best focus on them. Be realistic and schedule some breaks for grabbing a cup of coffee, checking email, or just stretching your legs, but do try to avoid tasks that can suck you in.
Close your Outlook and do not open it for a period of time, so you are not easily distracted by emails. Set your Out of Office to say that you are not checking your email for designate period of time and you will respond once that time has ended. Be sure to schedule 15 minutes at the end of each day for planning and scheduling the following day. Additionally, include 30 minutes at the end of your week to plan and schedule your following week. Your goal with scheduling your day is to find the balance between being realistic with how your day will look, while pushing yourself slightly so that you do more of the strategic items that you have been missing out on for so long.
While doing this, we must be realistic. It’s nearly impossible to get rid of every distraction and plan your time perfectly so that you’re being 100% strategic. Try as we may, it doesn’t happen. The point of creating a to-do list, acknowledging your time wasters, and scheduling your days is to set your mind on the right path for success. If you come to work ill-prepared and start working on the first thing that crosses your path, strategic or not, it is setting your day up for failure. If you start thinking more strategically, it’s easier to become more strategic and make your days more successful.
On the note of technology, you can ensure you never have to worry about your technology (downtime, passwords, system errors, etc.) by contacting a Managed Service Provider to handle your tech for you. Contact The TNS Group for more information on how you can eliminate technology related time wasters in your company.