Time is the only resource that is distributed equally amongst everyone. Yet some people seem to have received more time as they accomplish a lot more than others. For example, most employees may have seen that one employee who always seems to be more productive than the rest. That too despite having the same or similar set of goals.
Most people are good at setting goals for a day, month or a specific period. However in spite of drafting a clear path, their efforts may yield mediocre results at most. The secret lies in their ability to manage their time in alignment with their goals. In recent times there have been stories about how great leaders manage their time in the most efficient manner. Thus they consistently achieve their goals and move on to bigger things.
What is it that enables these individuals to achieve such extraordinary feats?
They prioritize their goals:
Popular goal management methodologies (such as the OKR goal setting framework) recommend that ideal number of goals shouldn’t be more than 4 to 5 at any point of time. A majority of these should help you contribute towards your team and subsequently company’s growth. The rest should be your personal goals to help you advance in your career. However these goals are strategic and more long term. They can be further broken down to an operational level to be completed within shorter durations such as in a day or week.
Now that your goals are defined, it is time to take steps on how best to achieve them. The first thing you should do is determine how do you spend your time in office. ( Or how do you spend your time working at home, for the more liberal companies.) Do you dedicate your entire time to fulfil your goals? Or are you involved in mundane tasks that are unrelated and take up most of your time?
The amount of time that you actually spend working determines the number of tasks that you will accomplish during the day. Thus prioritise your goals so that there is a higher chance of achieving them within this limited amount of your time. It will not only help increase your productivity but also your contribution towards company goals. Besides every goal completed for the day is a little win for you. These wins are essential to keep you motivated to do your best and maintain consistency.
Be flexible yet firm:
Sounds contradictory but that’s how you should plan out your day. Make sure that you have a short to-do list for the day and stick to it as closely as possible. Yet understand that not every moment can be planned to the T. There are bound to be interruptions, delays, unplanned meetings or even a fire breakout (read – crisis, otherwise that would be really unfortunate).
You need to be flexible and allow for certain distractions, which could actually be important. But get right back on track to ensure you hit your goals for the day. And more importantly, don’t turn away those who seek your guidance or suggestions. In a bid to finish your tasks first, you might become a bottleneck for your team. Don’t be that guy. Being busy is not a sign of being productive. On the contrary it shows that you can’t manage your time well. Say no when some of these issues can be done at a latter point of time to avoid compromising on your priorities.
Some tips to manage your time:
Which is your most productive time: start of the day, afternoon or late night? Identify this time and carry out your most important work during this time. Some people call it kiss the frog at this time. Basically it means that, get the most unpleasant but important tasks out of the way when you are at your peak productivity. Normally we tend to procrastinate when it comes to tasks that require a lot of thinking or creativity. We tend to lean towards menial activities so that we appear busy yet don’t really have to pressure our brains.
For example, given an option between drafting a marketing proposal and filling out a database, the latter sounds less taxing, apart from the physical efforts of copy and paste.
Learn to let go:
Despite your best efforts, there are chances that you may not reach your targets. Do not stretch yourself endlessly if you underestimated the time required for that task. Beyond a certain time, the mind simply runs out of creative juices. Unless it is given time to relax and rejuvenate, you won’t be able to perform at your optimum levels. Learn to let go once in a while. You can always rethink your plan and accommodate any unfinished task. After all, “to err is human.”
Time management is a skill that can be perfected over time. After a few trials and errors, you will eventually be able to balance your strategic and operational initiatives. Thus making you more efficient at your job. How do you manage your time?