10 Ways to Manage Your Time Efficiently
Our working spaces should foster focus and concentration. However, sometimes it seems that they have been designed to do the complete opposite. Even when we are swamped by the amount of work we have, we would likely spend a lot of time checking emails, reading Twitter, or browsing around on the internet.
According to professionals, such distractions are not only stressful but also costly. According to Dr. Gloria Mark, Professor at the University of California, it takes about 23 minutes for a person to fully regain their focus on a task after being distracted. (Here is a link to an interview of the Professor)
The Overload Research Group has found that U.S. workers waste on average 25 percent of their time dealing with "an incessant stream of data," losing their employers about $997 billion a year.
In this article, you will discover the ten most common distractors at work and the strategies to control them and manage your time efficiently.
1. Personal Technology
Our smartphones have dimmed the line between personal and professional communication. We can pretty much receive work emails, phone calls, Instagram notifications, Facebook updates, and so on on the same device.
It is nearly impossible to control what people do on their own devices. And since most employees use their devices to deal with work-related matters, policies to control their use at work are not effective.
To minimize the impact of technology in our time management efforts, a good idea is to put away your phone for some time during the day. By doing so, you are more likely to focus on the work you have to complete.
Most of the emails we receive are not important. But for some reason, we feel the need to look at them as soon as they arrive. Here are four ways to handle those incoming messages.
- Schedule checking time. Turn off email notifications and set times throughout the day to check your inbox. Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes for each session.
- Choose "low productivity" times. There are likely certain times of day when you are the most productive. Avoid checking your email at such times. Instead, schedule an email check-in for your less productive times.
- Turn emails into actions. While some emails are straightforward to read or reply to, others need more attention. Such emails should be part of your To-Do list.
- Use the trash. Don't keep emails forever. If you no longer need an email, do not be afraid to trash it. Keeping unnecessary emails might make it more difficult for you to manage your inbox.
3. Social Media
On the one hand, social media allows us to communicate with family and friends like never before. On the other hand, it is a productivity destroyer. It takes away our time and attention from work.
Since organizations cannot block employees' access to non-work-related websites, it is important to encourage people to use social media responsibly.
A good way to realize how much you are using social media during working hours is to check your phone's stats. Most smartphones can give you statistics on how you use your phone. After knowing this, you can create a schedule to check your phone, answer messages, and post updates.
4. Instant Messaging
A lot of companies use Instant Messaging platforms to keep team members in touch. But, such tools can soon turn into distractors when they are not used responsibly.
If you want to avoid getting distracted by IM, try not to use them for long or non-essential conversations. Think about setting a time during the day to be "online."
Reading the news, searching for holidays inspiration, and buying things online can steal precious time from work. And it might be against the company's policy.
Most companies require an internet connection to work efficiently; therefore, turning off access to the internet is not an option. However, if it is difficult for you to stay away from browsing, you could consider installing blocking software to help you decide which websites you want to keep your distance from.
6. Phone Calls
When we hear a phone ringing, we tend to feel the urge to answer. Regardless of how deep into the "work zone" we are.
To decrease this source of distraction, consider arranging a rota with your colleagues so that you can take calls for one another. in case of personal calls, try explaining to your family and friends that you will be available to answer the phone during certain times of the day.
7. Working Environment
Sometimes, trying to ignore distractions is not enough. If you work in a noisy environment, consider moving into an empty meeting room when you need a quiet space to work. You could also wear noise-canceling headphones to work more comfortably.
Having an extensive and disorganized To-Do list can confuse you and lead you to procrastination. Manage your To-Do list in a way that you can work on the two or three most important tasks throughout the day.
If you work in a team, you can ask for help or share the workload with teammates. If you work as a manager, effectively delegation could be your best ally.
9. Other People
Unless you are working on a team task, colleagues visiting your desk could be a distractor.
If you need to work on a task that requires concentration, consider working from home or in a conference room to avoid interruptions.
If you have your own office, it might be easier for you, communicate with your colleagues that you need to spend time on your own while working on a task.
In an open working space, make your workspace less hospitable by removing extra chairs or standing up when working.
Even though we don't always admit it, many of our distractions come from within. We live in a fast-moving environment, and it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves.
The foundation of a productive workday is being well-rested. Unfortunately, we often lose sleep because of technology distractions at home. It is essential to practice responsible use of technology at home.
Drinking plenty of water, getting fresh air, and taking breaks will help you keep a sharp mind at work. It also means that you will be more able to avoid and overcome distractions.
We all face distractions that affect our time management skills and productivity. Distractions not only lower our productivity but also increase our stress. Try to adopt new habits to help you manage your time efficiently and control your distractors.
Implementing these measures could help you have a more productive working experience.