Don’t Waste Your Time

15 Sep

Let’s face it, we all do it, whether we realize it or not. When we’re setting up our Fantasy Football team during working hours, we know we’re wasting our time. However, if we’re conducting a 3-hour Board Meeting each month, we may not be aware we’re wasting our time.

So what are the implications? Does it really make a difference? Well, actually it makes a much bigger difference than we might realize. Using our time ineffectively zaps our time and energy required to make truly important decision. Do you want to test it?

Weekly Diary: Track Your Week
Add up all of the hours you spend in meetings, on conference calls, and answering long trails of emails in a given week. Don’t just guess. Instead, track it like a diary for the week. In just one week, you will notice a pattern. Then, create a list of the “to do’s” that you did not have time to get to and see if they would have fit into that wasted time.

Analyze Your Meetings
Any meeting longer than one hour is ineffective. We’ve all sat in on those meetings or conference call meetings that last 2-3 hours. So how do you ensure you are not guilty of wasting the time of your meeting attendees?

  • Provide a clear agenda in advance so everyone on the call will know what they are expected to be prepared to bring to the table.
  • Limit the amount of discussion on less critical items and decisions. The primary reason meetings run too long are discussions that run off course or simply last too long.
  • Avoid redundancy. Do not review items that have already been covered in other meetings with the same people in attendance. Detailed meeting minutes from committees and departments can eliminate the need to rehash these issues.

Email Energy Zap
How often do you check your emails? If you’re like me, it’s probably too often. If we’re not disciplined in the time that we spend answering, responding to, or writing emails, our entire day’s productivity can be zapped away from us. Learn when to step away from your emails. Reducing the number of times we check our email or interrupt the project we’re working on, the more time we’re wasting. Moreover, each time we interrupt our workflow, we increase the amount of time it takes to complete the project.

The key to not wasting our time comes down to asking ourselves these questions: First, is this the best use of my valuable time at this moment? Second, am I doing what I want to do or what I need to do? Third, do I need to reassess my priorities and adjust my work plan?

One of my personal time-saving tips…since our office is very casual, I usually wear a white t-shirt and jeans to work. I can always throw a blazer or sweater over it should someone unexpectedly stop in. This tip saves time and energy. I don’t need to waste either in the morning.  The time I save in deciding what to wear to work frees up my time for important decisions.

I hope you will share your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions for better managing our time.

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