Time Management: How to Enhance Your Productivity in 6 Ways
Your regularly scheduled work routine might have rapidly undone your best intentions if you made a resolution earlier this month to work more efficiently, quit putting things off, and be more productive.
Jason Womack, a workplace performance specialist, claims that it is challenging to alter our work habits in order to increase productivity because, in many situations, these behaviors have contributed to our success (even if they drove us to the edge of sanity in the process).
According to Womack, “a mid-level manager, for example, has undoubtedly developed the habit of living by the ding of email or the buzz of the BlackBerry,” and they were likely rewarded for their attentiveness. It will be challenging for them to change their habits if they haven’t addressed that Pavlovian response.
According to Womack, the biggest time management error professionals make is to keep spending time on things that are no longer worthy of it.
When they ought to be finished, he claims, “They keep going.” “They continue to type an email after responding to a query in the subject line. When they have already addressed the call’s purpose, they continue conversing on the phone. After the meeting points have been discussed, they remain in the room.”
Womack offers six of his best time management and productivity-boosting advice so you won’t repeat his mistakes.
1. Stick to the 15-minute rule. Womack advises breaking up your workday into 15-minute intervals. With an eight-hour workday, you have 32 15-minute segments. Your 10-hour workday is divided into 40 15-minute halves. Womack emphasizes 15 minutes because, in his opinion, it is both short enough to fit into your day and long enough to accomplish something.
Womack advises his clients to start meetings or conference calls that would ordinarily last an hour at 15 minutes beyond the hour and to terminate them on the hour. He thinks that people can complete what they think they need 60 minutes in 45 minutes (three 15-minute segments). The meeting’s 45-minute time limit compels you to stay on topic and provides you an additional 15 minutes to work on something else on your to-do list.
2. Know when you’re done. The majority of experts aren’t even aware of how much time is wasted when something is virtually finished. According to Womack, who is also the author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, people need to consider the question of “When am I done” (Wiley 2012).
After reading a nonfiction book, he adds, “I finish the book when I’ve learned anything new from the author.” I’ve purchased novels for $24.95 and read them in two or three 15-minute segments before giving them to my airplane seatmate.
3. Eliminate distractions. While eliminating distractions is a tried-and-true time management technique, Womack’s suggestion for avoiding certain distractions, like an annoying manager or coworker, is fresh and practical.
Womack advises stopping your manager before she asks a question if she frequently does so. For instance, approach your manager first a few minutes before the hour, say, 10:52 or 10:55 AM, ideally before a meeting or call, rather than waiting for her to ping you or appear at your desk. “I have a lot of stuff I’m working on, plus a meeting at 11, so I’m trying to get any interruptions out of the way,” he says to say to her. Do you have anything you need to tell me or ask me before my meeting and before my work gets underway?”
Another piece of advice from Womack is to call your contact (or go to his desk) a few minutes before the hour if you have a quick question but don’t want to engage in a lengthy conversation around it. You never know when your contact might have a meeting on the hour and won’t have time for small talk.
4. Identify verbs that need attention. Your to-do list should be organized around verbs like call, draught, review, plan, and schedule, according to Womack. According to him, those are chores that can typically be finished in a single sitting and that advance a bigger project.
According to Womack, if your to-do list contains verbs like “plan,” “discuss,” “develop,” or “implement,” change them to “action steps that break down the big picture project.” You’ll be able to get going and overcome any overwhelming feelings by doing this.
5. Be prepared for bonus time. Don’t become upset the next time you learn that your flight is running late or that your doctor is running behind schedule. Recognize that “extra time” has just been provided to you. As Womack advises, if you carry some work with you wherever you go, you’ll have the opportunity to work on it, whether it’s replying to emails, making calls, going through proposals, or creating plans.
6. Use email shortcuts. Womack points out that while using phones for email, users may establish quick keys or keyboard shortcuts on both the BlackBerry and iPhone. He set up a number of keyboard shortcuts to access boilerplate material that he routinely reuses. For instance, Womack only needs to enter his shortcut, “OL,” to automatically fill his email with an answer if someone emails him seeking for advice on how to use Microsoft Outlook more successfully.