Time management doesn’t have to be boring. The only problem is, you can’t really manage time. Time goes on regardless of your input. You can’t slow it down, speed it up, or make it stand still. Although time is out of anyone’s hands, you can manage your tasks and keep your sanity at the same time.
Don’t Take Unscheduled Phone Calls
The Palm Tech IT crew has some great ideas for busy entrepreneurs to manage time. Their best suggestion is to limit distractions. Many entrepreneurs miss this important point. Distractions are everywhere, but it’s hard to identify some of them.
Some distractions have become integral parts of our lives and feel more like everyday life. For example, we’ve been trained to answer the phone when it rings no matter what we’re doing. We could be in the bathroom, watching a movie, driving, or eating at a restaurant and the moment our phone rings, we either answer the call or stare at the screen.
Preserve your time by not taking unscheduled phone calls. If people are used to having access to you at any time, you need to gently train them out of that access. Tell people they can call you anytime they want, but you won’t answer unless you’re actually free. Or, to guarantee a call, tell them to schedule a time to talk.
Each time you take an unscheduled phone call, the disruption has far-reaching consequences. Your current task will be interrupted, but worse, that interruption makes it hard to refocus on your task. That brings up the next point.
There is no such thing as “multitasking.” There is only “task switching.” You can’t actually do two things at once, but you can switch rapidly between two tasks. Unfortunately, task switching decreases productivity by inducing burnout.
Task switching is technically the art of acquiescing to distractions and interruptions. There is no need to attempt to perform two tasks at once. Usually, people are already engaged in one task when another task comes along competing for attention. Rather than staying focused on the original task and scheduling the other task for a later time, people attempt to manage both at once.
Common ways of multitasking:
- Writing emails while on a conference call
- Surfing the web while talking to a client
- Preparing for another meeting while on a call with a client
- Eating lunch while on a group video conferencing call
- Working on two different projects for the boss
- Putting away stock while answering phones, managing back room requests, handling live customer requests, and being a backup cashier
- Running a team while being required to be stationed in a position that requires attention
Although task switching is often revered or required by employers, it’s an exhausting distraction. Research shows it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully return to a task after being interrupted. After the first interruption, most people end up wandering off to a couple of other tasks before returning to the original task. Sometimes that wandering involves endlessly scrolling through Facebook, which creates even more of a distraction.
Each time you experience an interruption, your brain has to burn even more glucose to switch between tasks. With enough interruptions – even small ones – you’ll burn out fast.
Turn Off Your Cell Phone And Leave It Out Of Your Work Space
If you’re not actively using your phone for work, leave it out of your workspace. Dinging and ringing cellphone notifications for Facebook and Twitter, for example, have become a completely normal part of the day. However, those notifications are extremely distracting.
Leaving your cellphone off or in another room while you work will also help you stop taking unscheduled phone calls.
Schedule Your Daily Tasks
Scheduling your daily tasks will improve your productivity tenfold. For example, figure out what needs to be done and make a master list using your preferred method. Choose your priorities for the week and schedule a handful of those tasks for each day.
The key to making this work is to avoid overloading your day. Don’t schedule more than you can reasonably manage. In fact, under-schedule your days for a while until you know how much you can manage each day. You might find it helpful to set a time limit for your tasks to prevent procrastination.
Prioritize And Be Intentional, But Slow Down
You don’t have to get everything done in one day or even one week. Prioritize your tasks and be intentional with your deadlines, but slow down and approach your work with ease. With a calm mind, you’ll be far more productive and less susceptible to distractions.