Do you get to the end of the day and wonder where your time went? Did you look at your ‘to do’ list and see lots of things still to be done despite all of your hard work? Does it leave you feeling stressed or stop you from sleeping properly?
So who or what stole your time? Let’s have a look at some prime suspects and how you can send them to jail.
Time Thief #1: Emails
Reading and responding to emails can be a real time stealer. Here are some strategies for dealing with them:
- Unsubscribe from unwanted sites that send automatic messages
- Don’t subscribe to websites unless you really want to receive regular information
- Make sure that your system is set up to identify Spam
- Prioritise your emails. Answer the ones that need an early reply. Flag the emails you need to respond to in more depth. Delete the emails you don’t want or need.
- Set up folders for emails you want to keep or need to action
Time Thief #2: Interruptions.
Interruptions come in different types. There are those things you need to deal with immediately. Just do it! Some things can be deferred. Use these four prioritisation categories to decide what to do and when:
- Urgent and important: Do it now and give it as long as it needs
- Urgent but not Important – Do it now but don’t spend too long on it
- Important but not urgent – Make a start. Put some time in your diary to complete it
- Neither urgent nor important – Do you need to do this at all? Can it be delegated? If you need to do it, can you allocate some time in your diary for it
Time Thief #3: Interrupters
There are people who will come along to interrupt your day. Some may be welcome and you can take a break with them. If the interruption is unwelcome tell the person politely that you don’t have much time or ask them how long the conversation will take. You can then schedule it in for a more appropriate time.
Time Thief #4 Tasks you could delegate
Do you need to do all of the tasks that are on your to do list or would it be more appropriate for someone to do them? Delegating and outsourcing can apply to work around the home as well as at work. Some guidelines for delegation:
- Spend a week keeping a note of all the activities that you do. Divide them between three categories: A) tasks that are core to what you do and that you enjoy and are well equipped to carry out; B) tasks that are essential to your life but you don’t particularly enjoy or need more training or information to do properly; C) tasks that anybody could do that steal you away from what you want to do. Look at ways to delegate or outsource B and C tasks.
- Delegate whole tasks wherever possible
- Discuss and agree tasks and times with the person you outsource to so that there is no confusion about what is required and by when.
Time Thief #5: Fear
If the same tasks keep ending up on your to do list at the end of the day ask yourself ‘what is the little fear that is stopping me from doing it?’ Procrastination can be a sign of the freeze response to perceived danger.
It is best to do the tasks you find most difficult first thing in the morning while your brain is still fresh and energised. Get them off the list and you will be surprised how much more you can get done.
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