It’s powerful having email, chat and browsing at our finger tips. It’s also incredibly distracting. Technology is helping create an attention-deficit society where almost everyone complains about not having enough time and being too busy. Strengthening your time management skills is also a matter or strengthening your attention management skills. If you often hear yourself saying “I’m too busy”, it’s time to evaluate your situation and commit to some new time and attention management skills.
Evaluate Your Current Situation
Start by identifying your current time and attention management effectiveness. When you struggle to get things done, what do you think causes is? Are you experiencing constant interruptions? Are you lacking a prioritized to-do list? When you do successfully manage your time, what do you do differently? If you know what to work on, that’s half the battle.
- For instance, you might have good time management in your home life, but lack the ability to get your tasks done at work. So what’s different at the office? Are phone calls, emails and other people taking your attention away from your tasks? Have you neglected to block time into your calendar to focus on your to-do’s? Are you working on your most important tasks when you’re most alert and productive or do these get left until last when you’re most tired?
Step back and examine, objectively, how you’re managing your time and attention and I’m sure you’ll discover what you can do differently.
Use these techniques to strengthen your time management skills
- Confront procrastination. “Procrastination is the thief of time” Edward Young (1683–1765). Procrastination is a symptom of an underlying issue. Ask yourself why you’re putting things off. What’s the root cause of your procrastination? Resolve the root problem and the symptom will go away.
- Perhaps you’re expecting too much out of yourself and feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay, and even more productive, to take breaks. Then, when it’s time to work, you’ll feel refreshed and motivated to get the job done.
- The root cause is often a fear. Regarding the project you are putting off, what are you afraid of? Identify and face the fear and the procrastination will go away.
- Get organized. It’s easy to waste time if you can’t find things, or if you aren’t sure what task you’re supposed to be working on. Organize your workspace and eliminate clutter. Set goals, create action steps and schedule when you will work on each action step. You must know WHAT you’re working on, HOW you will complete it and WHEN you will work on it.
- Work when you are most productive. When in your day do you perform at your best? Schedule your most intensive thinking activities for when you feel fresh and best able to think. Turn off your phone and email and give yourself a set period of time to work. Once you complete the task, you’ll enjoy a sense of satisfaction and then you won’t be as bothered if the rest of the day falls apart because you have completed one of your important tasks.
- Learn to delegate. When it’s appropriate, delegate tasks in order to save yourself time for things only you can do. One of my clients used to say “I hold my people able”. Your team might not complete the task exactly the way you would, but with clear delegation on your part, you should only need to review the completed work while saving yourself the time of doing it yourself.
- Celebrate your wins. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong, what’s outstanding and what the next problem is. Take a moment each day to acknowledge your wins. Look at what you have accomplished (no matter how small). Celebrating your wins will keep you in a positive frame of mind and will increase your productivity day after day.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Your productivity is a direct function of how well you manage your time, tasks and attention. Commit yourself to being focused and attentive. Take action in alignment with your commitment and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Laura Watson, ACC, MSW is President of Venture Coaching Inc. Laura was a 2018 Woman of Inspiration Finalist and a finalist for the 2010 Canadian Coach of the Year Award. Venture Coaching provides Business Coaching , and Life and Leadership coaching programs to entrepreneurs so they can love their life and business! Venture Coaching provides the tools, process and support to accelerate your business and personal growth.