In this age of information overload, most leaders today are crunched for time. Some overwork themselves to the point of exhaustion, and some can’t seem to stay focused on a singular task and instead get lots of things half-done in their day.
On top of needing more time at work, most would say they wish they could spend more time with friends and families and pursue non-work-related hobbies. There are so many time-saving hacks out there with a wide variety of effectiveness.
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. (Source) But as soon as you start a new habit, you start reaping the benefits, including managing your time better.
4 Ways to Manage Your Time Better in 1 Week
1. Plan ahead.
If you head to work every day without a plan of what needs to be done that day and in that first hour, you’re wasting time. If you start your day with email, you are letting other people dictate the priority of your tasks. To set yourself up for success the following day, you need to leave your office tidy and with a short list of prioritized items for the next day. Most people have the most energy for higher-functioning mental tasks in the morning. Try tackling your 2 most important tasks (MIT) first thing in the morning.
2. Remake Your Schedule
If you have the freedom to dictate parts of your schedule, you should reconsider how your days are scheduled. Our minds can only stay focused for 90-minute periods before needing a short 20-25 minute break. Instead of organizing all of your meetings into one time block, try to break up your day, leaving time before and after your meetings to brainstorm and reflect. People with the best time management skills understand how the brain works and work within its parameters to get things done efficiently.
3. Eliminate half-work.
Half-work is when we split our attention between 2 different tasks. Perhaps you start answering emails and then take a phone call, but continue to try to answer emails. Another example would be when you’re halfway done with a project and grab your phone to start scrolling social media for no reason.
“In our age of constant distraction, it’s stupidly easy to split our attention between what we should be doing and what society bombards us with,” writes James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits.
If you start to pay attention to your habits, you’ll quickly realize how often you do half-work throughout your day. It probably started as a way to get things done quicker by working on more than one thing at a time, but that’s not how our brains work best.
“Regardless of where and how you fall into the trap of half–work, the result is always the same: you’re never fully engaged in the task at hand, you rarely commit to a task for extended periods, and it takes you twice as long to accomplish half as much,” adds Clear.
For most people, our habit of half-work is deeply related to our smartphone/internet addiction. Try leaving your phone off and in another room the next time you sit down to work on a project.
4. Batch similar tasks together.
Batching tasks together is a great way to save time at home and work. Try scheduling similar tasks together when you have your list for the day. Write all emails, make all phone calls, and make all calendar appointments, separating each task into separate time blocks.
“Different tasks demand different types of thinking. By batching related tasks together, your brain isn’t switching gears – which means you cut out that time reorienting.” (Source)
Time management is a serious problem for so many people. We’ve got things pulling us in a million different directions with varying degrees of importance. We all only have 24 hours a day and 168 hours a week. Habits are hard to start and even more challenging to continue into our lives. But the payoff could be enormous when you think about the energy you saved compounded over time.