We face distractions everywhere, but the seemingly endless time-wasters at work can affect not only productivity, but one’s reputation and self-esteem. To put forth your best effort on the job, it’s vital to know the difference between easily fixable distractions and activities or perceptions whose impact on productivity can be misunderstood.
One of the greatest potential obstacles to productivity is your work environment. To address distracting noise, including conversations, music and presentations, consider masking it with professional-grade headphones or by placing a white noise machine in the vicinity of the sounds.
In the pre-Internet era, talking on the phone at work was a necessity. That’s no longer true for everyone. Even though it might seem like a convenient way to complete some office tasks, answering non-urgent calls sets you up to be interrupted and delayed. Set specific time periods during which you don’t take calls unless they are truly urgent. Indicate this on your voicemail greeting, letting callers know when they can reach you or when you will be able to get back to them. When you must take phone calls, stand while talking on the phone. It will shorten the length of the conversation.
Though phone calls eat up time unnecessarily, embracing social media to share ideas with colleagues ultimately can help you become more productive. While it may sound counter-intuitive, one ASU management professor says technology can bolster personal relationships with telecommuting workers, part-time employees and staffers who work in satellite offices. The professor says that social networking sites nurture casual and candid rapport and can be an important ingredient in building links between coworkers.
Myths about effective work habits can actually reduce your efficiency if you buy into them. For example, multi-tasking doesn’t necessarily boost efficiency. Rather, multi-tasking may be a sign that you can’t commit. Cognitive research has revealed that “every shift in direction, every switch in tasks…costs.”
The phrase “time management” doesn’t make sense because time cannot be managed. We can’t manufacture time or manipulate it. Focusing language on “time” rather than on “priorities” results in avoiding responsibilities. It justifies sitting in a time management course rather than completing a task. We can manage priorities, but not time itself.
It’s also a myth that the most productive people are the busiest. If productivity means acting on priorities, then reflection, assessment, conversation and planning are required for real productivity.
The bottom line is that understanding what constitutes a needless distraction and what can translate into helpful collaboration or “priority management” can lead to a superior work product. Minimizing true distractions and maximizing opportunities to connect with colleagues is the essence of real productivity.
To learn more about eliminating time-wasters, listen to Take Control of Your Time audio.
What are your biggest time wasters? Is it all those interruptions – people stopping by your desk seeking assistance… or just to chat? Do you find yourself getting mired in email? Or what about those meetings where you don’t seem to accomplish anything? Based upon ten years of coaching professionals to be more productive and make better use of their time, here are the top 7 time wasters I hear from clients. I’ve also given suggestions for how to combat these time wasters.
- Interruptions – When someone stops by your desk to talk, and seems to be rambling, ask, “How can I help you?” This helps him get to the point quickly. If he just wants to chat, let him know you’re working on an important project, and ask if you can talk later.
- Being distracted by email – Turn off your email notification which indicates new email. This way you won’t be distracted by it. Rather than continuously checking email throughout the day, set aside a few times each day to check email, so you can focus on the task at hand.
- Unproductive meetings – Set an agenda and stick to it; avoid going off on tangents. Assign a time keeper to help ensure you cover the important topics.
- Being tied to the phone – Have others screen your calls. Or if you don’t have an assistant, then forward your phone to voicemail when working on important projects. Schedule a telephone hour to return calls.
- Not wanting to say “no” to requests – You can’t say “yes” to everything without getting in over your head. Decide what you must do – and what you want to do – and say “no” to all other requests.
- Being afraid to delegate – It’s not necessary to do everything yourself. You’ll be more productive if you delegate. Let go of control and trust others to do the job.
- Procrastinating – Tackle the unpleasant tasks first – if they’re important. Divide large projects into smaller tasks so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Reward yourself when you accomplish a project.
For more suggestions on how to better manage your time, listen to “Take Control of your Time” audio CD.
Are you not as productive as you’d like to be? Maybe your beliefs and attitudes towards time are holding you back. Here are five myths related to time management. Review these to determine if old, out-dated beliefs are hampering your productivity.
Myth #1: There isn’t enough time.
How many times have you said, “There isn’t enough time.” The truth is that you and the most accomplished people have the same amount of time. We all have just 24 hours in the day, and 168 hours in the week – no more and no less. It’s how you choose to prioritize your time that makes a difference.
Myth #2: I’ve got to figure out ways to save time.
There is no such thing as saving time; however we can certainly utilize our time better to become more efficient.
Myth #3: The more I work the more I’ll get done.
Just because you work more hours, doesn’t mean you’ll accomplish more. Activity isn’t the same as accomplishment. In fact, if we work ourselves to the point of becoming fatigued, we are actually less productive. Research shows it take five-times longer to solve a problem when we’re fatigued.
Myth #4: If you want a job well done, then you have to do it yourself.
Many people think they have to perform a task themselves in order to do it right. However, that’s not necessarily true. Top achievers orchestrate the work flow and trust the talents of others. They’ve learned to delegate effectively, and therefore get more accomplished.
Myth #5: High achievers work harder than others.
High achievers don’t necessarily work harder than others, they work smarter than others. They know their priorities and focus on the right things. They also make more efficient use of their time.
For tips on how to better utilize your time, listen to Take Control of Your Time audio CD.
I love this message on the value of time, and wanted to share it with my readers. I think this is especially important to remember at this time of year. Enjoy your time with your family and friends this holiday season!
The Value of Time
Imagine … there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening it deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do? Draw out every cent, or course!
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today!
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!
The holidays can be the most festive and fun time of year — or they can be the busiest and most exhausting time of year. When December comes, so do the holiday invitations – to family gatherings, business parties, social events, and church functions. All too often our jam-packed schedule simply wears us out. We’re so preoccupied with trying to do it all that we miss out on the fun and enjoyment of the holidays. We end up feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. By the time January 2nd rolls around, we’re grateful the holidays are over. Here are a few tips to help make sure you don’t get overbooked during the holidays.
Prioritize – Reflect on the purpose of the holiday. What’s most important to you? Spending time with family? Participating in religious or church activities? Or attending business functions? Categorize the events into categories: a) must attend, b) attend if possible, and c) skip.
Schedule early – For your high priority events, schedule them early. If family traditions are important to you, schedule a date for the family to cut down a Christmas tree or to make a trip to the city to view the holiday lights and window displays. At work, coordinate schedules in advance with your department members to schedule a holiday lunch.
Be willing to say “no” – Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to try to do it all. Recognize that you may not be able to accept all holiday invitations. Be selective about which invitations you’ll accept. If you’re not able to attend a party, look for alternate ways to spend time your friend; for example, doing some Christmas shopping together or meeting for lunch at a later date.
The bottom line is that you want to make the holidays as stress-free as possible. By following these tips you’ll avoid becoming exhausted and experience more fun and enjoyment.