Time Management

Time-management

Want to Get More Out of Life? Focus on Time Management!

We all at one point in our lives have had this same thought “I don’t have enough time!” Why is that, when we all get the same 24 hours? Why is it that some people achieve so much more with their time than others? The answer lies in good time management.

 “Time management” refers to the way that you organize and plan how long you spend on specific activities. It is the ability to utilize one’s time efficiently to be more productive and organized. Self-discipline is the key to manage your time well.  When you practice good time management, you leave no room for procrastination. The better you get at it, the more self-discipline you learn. This is a valuable skill that will begin to impact other areas of your life where a lack of discipline has kept you from achieving a goal.

Laura Vanderkam who is the author of many time management and productivity books shared a very useful idea about how we can be good at time management in her TedTalk titled “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”. She says, “It’s not that we don’t have time to do things, it’s just that it’s not a priority for us.” When we consider something to be a priority, we would jump right in and try and accomplish the task as soon as possible.

She says that we should make a list of goals that we need to accomplish and note them down according to our priorities. This Priority list should consist of three sections namely, Career, Relationships and Self. This inadvertently makes us realise that we should have goals in all these sections and not just focus on our career goals.

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca.  We live in a culture obsessed with personal productivity. Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments. By using this method of attention management we: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.

You need time to get what you want out of life. If you wait for extra time to appear, you might lose the game of life. Through right time management, you can “create” the time you need, and not just wait for it to come. By planning your time wisely, you will have more time to do more things. It helps you make conscious choices, so you can spend more of your time doing things that are important and valuable to you. Even a small amount of time once a day, or even once a week, will take you closer to your goals, and you will be surprised at the progress you make.

Accept the fact that you are not Superman or Superwoman. Find time to relax, including the time to do absolutely nothing. The result of having adequate “downtime” is a brain that works better during both professional and personal time. The implementation of realistic time management plans can improve productivity and quality of life.

productivity-soaring-eagles

Work Smarter – Not Harder, Not Longer – Sounds Great! BUT HOW?

Productivity is a RED HOT topic in every single organisation!

And it should be – surveys and reports state that an average worker admits to wasting at least 3 hours EVERY DAY – not including lunch!

Of course, all this is costing organizations billions (yes, that’s right – BILLIONS) every year. But let us step away from the cost to the company for a bit and talk about the cost to our lives and our relationships. Because no matter how much fun you are having at work – the wasted time comes back to bite us sooner or later, either as extra-long office hours, wasted weekends, missed family events, stressful vacations or reduced salaries.

So how do you make sure you Work Smart, Not Hard, and Finish On Time?

Well, there are many tips and tricks to make your day more productive. Here are some of our favourites –

Start the day with a plan

The first 30-45 minutes at work is usually a waste! No matter how conscientious you are, you WILL end up wasting the first half-hour greeting colleagues, settling in, checking your mail and generally thinking of what to do first. 

There are two ways to fix this

  • Start your day early: get in before everyone else and get some alone time to plan your day and catch up on important tasks.
  • Spend 10 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you have to do next.

(This has to be a written down to-do list, not something in your head)

Eat the frog

The frog here is the most tedious or the hardest job of the day. The idea is to do it first and get it out of the way. Why? Because we all tend to delay complicated tasks, and as the day progresses, they just become bigger and bigger in our minds.

Get rid of ALL distractions

We wrote ALL in capitals because there are many distractions at work! On average, we switch activities every 3 minutes, and it takes us at least 25 minutes to refocus.

Several studies have pointed out 5 main time-wasters at work – emails, meetings, browsing online, socializing with co-workers, and procrastination.

Here are our tips to fix these

  • Give yourself phone free working hours. These could be half-hour slots where you mute your phone and concentrate on the job at hand.
  • Limit checking emails to only 3-4 times in a day. Do it in batches instead of reacting to every single email.
  • Set a clear agenda for each meeting and always have an end time set. If you don’t control the meeting, then it’s best to communicate an end time. For example, saying I have another call starting in 40 minutes is a great way to leave on time.
  • Stop checking social media feeds and shopping online – you just have to be strong and force yourself to disconnect. If going cold turkey seems too much then starting in small chucks is a good way to detox. Check out this list of apps that can help you get started.
  • The best way to stop getting distracted with friends at work is to stop distracting them. If you keep going over to everyone’s desk and interrupting, then they will do the same to you! Lead the way by restricting your conversations to coffee breaks; if you have to interrupt, then apologise and ask if they are free – this will make sure they think twice before interrupting you.

 Break up your tasks into small ones

This might seem counterproductive, but it actually works. If you get uninterrupted 8 hours, you won’t be able to focus continuously – that’s not how the human brain works. We look for distractions, and we are very good at finding them. Giving yourself small goals or shorter deadlines stops you from getting overwhelmed and gives you the carrot of a break to look forward to.

The Pomodoro timer app is a great way to stay focused on small chunks of time.             

And finally… give it time.

Even if you take every trick in this article seriously and start tomorrow – you will NOT see any change. For a while.

Productivity is like a muscle; you need to keep working at it to strengthen it. The first day you might only be able to stay away from your phone or WhatsApp for 10 minutes, but I promise you it WILL get better. You just have to keep doing it. It takes time and constant effort to make a dent.

In the long run, you will not just be able to see changes at work, but the positive impact will also spill over to your personal and emotional side. Believe us; you will sleep so much better with a to-do list that’s all crossed out and a calendar that is planned.

A large part of becoming more productive is about changing your mindset and habits. At Soaring Eagles, we offer coaching and training programs for individuals and corporates that can help people achieve peak productivity at work. Call us or email us to find out more.

time-management-tips-and-tricks-soaring-eagles

Time Management Tips And Tricks For Working Professionals

We all have the same 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86400 seconds every day. Then why is it that some people get more done! 

While personal skills – such as education and experience – and metal abilities – such as intelligence – play a role in how you perform a task, managing your time efficiently is also a major factor for professional success. 

Being able to eke out every drop of efficiency from your work time is an art that everyone must learn and practice to climb the corporate ladder.

Here are some well-tested tips and tricks from SoaringEagles’ training sessions and research –

Assess your current state of time management 

Before you start downloading a bunch of apps and start making to-do lists, you need to find out what needs to change! Track your workweek to find out how you are spending your office time. Seeing it in black and white will enable you to understand blocks of time-wasting activities you could do away with – like checking email, for example! 

Plan, Plan, and Plan

When it comes to active time management, you can’t expect things to just flow! Activities must be channelled – continuously – for them to start and end at a certain time. You have to take charge and plan; in detail. The best way is to start your day with a complete schedule of daily activities – which means that the last thing on your day’s agenda should be planning the next day’s schedule. 

We recommend you put pen to paper (or at least type) your plan for completing a task. Write down every step, along with information on what it would take to complete it. This gives you a well thought out list of actions to follow 

Delegate

As you go up the seniority chain, you will find that time remains the same, but work becomes more – more demanding, more urgent, and more complex. For you to use your expertise in the best possible way, you have to decide what you want to spend your time on – you can’t possibly do everything yourself, so something MUST be delegated. However, don’t delegate blindly, you have to factor in the time to teach your subordinates to do the job correctly. Delegation saves enormous amounts of time, but only if you invest some of your precious time first.

The 80-20 rule meets ‘eat the frog’ approach 

The 80-20 rule states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our effort. So focusing on finishing tasks that offer the most value is an excellent way to go. Naturally, whatever task is most important/valuable will not be simple or quick. The eat the frog approach tells us that we should get the most difficult, time-consuming, and painful tasks over with first. The human mind likes to shy away from things it doesn’t like, and we have to bring it back to doing what it is putting off. 

Start small but start

Planning is great, but you have to start somewhere. Take a look at your plan and pick a starting spot and just GET ON WITH IT. Even if you don’t complete that step, it’s OK. Just the fact that you started will give you enough mental momentum to see it through. 

An excellent way to make progress in large projects is to break it into small bits and then pick each tiny task and finish it. Not only do you make progress, but you also break down the mental resistance that comes from starting big projects. 

Say NO

Often we start a week with a nice enough plan, and by Wednesday, the whole thing has changed, expanded, and leaked onto our weekend! While some things are important and must be attended to, the fact is we get stuck in a lot of extra, last-minute activities due to our inability to refuse. Whether it’s a boss you can’t refuse or a colleague you want to help out or a fantastic opportunity you don’t want to lose – new projects get added, and old ones still stay where they were. 

You have to understand that time is finite, and you can only do so much – so you must learn to prioritize and REFUSE some work.  

Conclusion

“Until we manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter Drucker

Truer words have never been spoken. 

Believe us – whatever you are doing today will ONLY get better when you gain control of your time. Just try it!

productivity-hacks

Missing your deadlines lately? Here are some Actionable Productivity Hacks

The deadline lifestyle has become the new normal.

Whether you are self-employed or working with an organization, I am sure, over the last decade, you have noticed an increase in last-minute stress and general running around.

Are we trying to do too much in limited time spans or are we too distracted to focus and get work done? Or is this the modern style of work that’s customary in offices nowadays?

We will go out on a limb and say – a bit of both!

20 years ago, before mobile technology and the Internet, expectations from an employee were different. No one expected you to check mail once you left office and solving a problem took time that was adequately factored in.

Now, not only are we expected to be quicker and more knowledgeable, but also always available! While on one hand, timelines have become tighter; on the other, distractions are making them harder to achieve.

So, if you are a chronic deadline chaser and if you can’t remember the last time you finished everything well before time, then we have set of productivity tips that you need to try out TODAY!

#1. Set Realistic Goals and Learn to Say NO

Before we get started with the task of meeting deadline we need to ensure that these deadlines are realistic. Often, we find it hard to pull back from timelines that are tough to deliver; assignments are thrust on us and right from the first meeting we know it’s going to be difficult to deliver a good result (if at all) within the given deadline.

It’s up to you to take on what you can manage and firmly say no to impractical timelines; it is more sensible to speak up and request extra time or resources at the start rather than failing to meet a deadline at the end.

#2. Make a List

Once the task and the timeline are decided, the first thing to do is make a LIST!

We are not talking about just a basic list but a detailed one with a complete breakdown of all the various steps needed to complete the assignment – time needed for each part, the order in which you need to accomplish each mini task, additional resources or people who will be helping you and what they will be doing and any other details that could be useful.

This list is your roadmap to getting everything done. Done forget to add buffer time in it!

#3. Get resources together

Get everything you need together in one place – people, research and information. Start the ball rolling by sending out all the emails allocating work, requesting for help and communicating your plan and timelines to the people involved.

#4. Focus

Roll up your sleeves and create quality work time so that you can focus on the job at hand. Block large chunks of your calendar, keep meetings to the minimum or allocate certain times of the day for them, block your time-sucking apps and mute your notifications.

Basically, create long periods of distraction-free work time to ensure high productivity!

#5. Get the biggest stuff done first

Tackle the most complicated and the largest part of your work first.

We tend to focus on cutting down the to-do list by doing the smaller tasks, but that will just create more stress at the end. It might not feel as good, but believe us putting the most difficult bit behind you will ultimately pay off!

#6. Keep a Buffer

Always keep some buffer time when you plan.

This is the cut off time for you and your team, so that you have enough time to review and fix problems. Your time cushion also gives you some extra time you can use for putting some last minute finishing touches.

But most importantly, this is when you will be able to evaluate whether you will be able to make the deadline or miss it.

#7. Damage Control

Sometimes despite all the hard work and effort, deadlines are missed. It is important to ensure that you keep your boss, or the client informed of any delays and problems as they take place.

Also, it is much better to call in advance to inform people that you will miss the deadline rather than have them chase you. Be sure to have a second timeline thought out that you can offer straight away – one that is realistic!

Conclusion

In our modern, semi-digital lives, no one is willing to wait – from instant noodles to instant gratification – we want things done now!

You can’t single-handedly change the work culture to make it more relaxed – gone are the days of taking your time to get things done. So, its best to stay ahead of the curve by managing your time and keeping your productivity high.

If you are struggling to manage your time and need to bring your A-game to your new job/position, then don’t try to wing it. Bring in the professional before things get out of hand!

To know more click on the Request Consultation button above.

time-wasters

These are the top 4 time-wasters at work! How many do you encounter every day and what can you do to avoid them

Time flies… and it is especially fleet-footed when we are wasting it. Time-wasters can really pull you down!

5 minutes of Facebook time equals 20 minutes of real time! And when you multiply the social media platforms and add email and WhatsApp to it, then it’s really not very surprising that we never end up finishing our work.

Compared to 15 years ago, office work today requires superhuman willpower to stay focused! But we can’t just blame social media or the Internet.

When we started collating some information on productivity, some statistics blew away our mind – Do you know that an average worker admitted to wasting 3 hours of their work day! In dollar terms that totalled to $759 billion in wasted salaries.

Wow! Right?

But this is not just a loss for your organisation; time wasted at work is the time you could have spent doing other things such as spending it with your family or on a hobby.

Better time management is the obvious answer to this problem. You can see this as an opportunity to change for the better – whether it is to stand out as super productive employee at work or to free up time to spend with your family and friends or on yourself.

It is not just about stopping time wastage, but more about using that time to better yourself.

However, the first step is to identify and avoid time wasters at work. So, here is the list of the biggest time wasters!

Top 4 Time-Wasters at Work

1. Meetings

Yes! Right at the top!

1 in 4 employees complains about too many meetings taking too much of their time AND (this is my favourite) 91% of the employees surveyed DAYDREAMED in meetings!

So, what can be done? While you can’t cut out meetings at work altogether, there is a lot you can do to minimise the disruption within your team –

  • Make sure only some people can call large meetings and encourage employees to have smaller team meets on their own.
  • Send a detailed agenda beforehand.
  • Set a time and stick to it. If a meeting is for 45 minutes, ensure that it finishes on time.
  • Always follow up a meeting with a MoM (minutes of the meeting)
  • Moderate and don’t let people digress from the topic of discussion.
  • Spend the last 5 minutes summarising the decisions made or the main points.

2. Social Media and the Internet

It’s no secret that almost all of us check our social media feeds and browse the Internet at work. Statistics point out that we spend 135 minutes every day on various social media sites and naturally a whole lot of this is bound to be at work!

If compulsive Internet surfing or social media grazing is something you identify as a time suck at the office, then the solution also lies with you.

Digital detox is not as simple as it sounds; most of the time we don’t even realise how many 5 minute chunks we end up spending on online, but limiting your online presence at work is something you will have to do on your own.

As always technology comes to the rescue and there are several apps that help to track your online behaviour and can even block the biggest time wasters for certain periods of time. Here’s a list of 10 best apps to keep you focused at all times.

3. Emails

Yes, this backbone of the business world has made it to the list of the biggest office time wasters.

Employees, on an average, check their emails 36 times every hour! And then it takes them 16 minutes to refocus on what they were doing before they checked their mail!

And what’s worse is that many of these emails are completely unnecessary, or so badly written that you waste even more time trying to figure them out.

So, what do you do to minimise the productivity drain your email causes?

  • You can allocate certain times of the day for checking your email. Don’t keep your email window or its notifications open the entire day. Depending on your work, log on once every hour or two.
  • You can also use email sorting apps such as Boomerang or ToDoist for Gmail or recommend apps to your HR to integrate with your office mail.

 4. Socialising

Humans are social creatures, so it’s not surprising that when thrown in an office together we will chat and gossip. But how much of it is acceptable at work, is a question we need to ask ourselves very seriously.

A survey discovered that an employee has to deal with an average of 56 interruptions a day! Apart from the time wasted during the interruption, there is the added time required to refocus on what you were doing before you were interrupted.

In an open plan office where you are sitting next to colleagues who might also be your friends, you need to set some clear boundaries.

  • What works best is just to say honestly that you need to finish something quickly and will return for a chat later.
  • Practice what you preach: don’t interrupt your colleagues often and always check if they have a few minutes to chat. If they see you do it, they might reciprocate.
  • Schedule specific breaks every few hours when you can step out for a coffee and a chat.

While you might feel that you are doing fine professionally even with all the distractions, believe us you will do even better when you control and spend your time at work more wisely.

Do you see your team or your organization struggling with time management?

I guess you see the time wasters mentioned above all around you but are unable to stop them. Sometimes an outsider can be more helpful to make your team sit up and become more productive.

For more information click on the Request Consultation button above.