How many times have you sat in your office, scanning a news website or (gasp) checking your Facebook because you have a meeting in 15 minutes and there is no point in starting something new? A big part of time management is learning to organize your time more effectively.
One helpful tip is to schedule your meetings for first thing in the morning, or for directly after lunch, so that you don’t have gaps in your schedule. If you start work at 8:30 but have a meeting scheduled for 9:00, you may find that first half hour of the day is less productive than you would like. Another tip is to schedule your meetings back-to-back if possible. You will find extra blocks of time throughout your day by following this simple rule. If you do find yourself with pockets of “dead time” throughout the day, learn to use them to your advantage. You’re walking the dog, but also working through the speech you have to give tomorrow morning. You’re stuck in traffic so you’re planning your goals for the day. You’re waiting for a meeting that is starting late, but making notes in your “To Do List.” Using these moments to regain focus means more “me” time later on.
Scheduling for success also means you must set deadlines for everything. Think back to the “ABC” method outlined in my blog: “Time Management: To Do Lists.” Deadlines are easy for “A” and “B” tasks. These tasks are urgent or important, you know you need to get them done, and it’s usually easy to assign a deadline. What about those annoying, never ending “C” tasks? Neither urgent nor important, they can go on forever and become a thorn in your side. What happens when one day you suffer a moment of temporary insanity and volunteer to reorganize the file room? For the next few weeks you walk into the file room, look at the boxes, plan, draw diagrams, theorize, sigh heavily and go back to your office. You just don’t know where to start. You can’t find the motivation. There’s no urgency, there’s no deadline.
Inertia is NOT our friend. You can’t get anything done if you don’t Get Started. Tackle tasks by chipping away methodically. Determine you’re going to spend 15 minutes per day on this task until it’s done. Don’t be so overwhelmed by the volume of tasks that you do nothing at all.
You need to start the ball rolling and keep it rolling by managing distractions. Close the door. Turn off the ringer. Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Tell everyone that you are unavailable until a certain time. I know people like to say their “door is always open,” but sometimes you really need to slam that sucker shut and get to work.