A comment I often hear in the recruiting business is that you can be busy all day and get absolutely nothing done. Cindy, a recruiter in California, strongly agrees with this statement. Recently she shared, “I’m not sure if I run my day or if it runs me.” Cindy is not alone. The proliferation of time-management books and seminars is a testament to the prevalence of this issue in all types of businesses. But even with these great tools, the problem does not seem to be going away. The first thing to recognize is that time cannot be managed. It ticks on regardless of any effort we try to exert on it. We do, however, have a choice about how we spend the minutes and hours allotted to us during our life. Here are ten ideas for making the most of the gift of time you are given each day.
- Take extra good care of yourself. Just like a car that is tuned up, taken care of and given quality fuel, you will operate more efficiently the better you take care of yourself. Time spent on healthy eating, quality sleep, playing, exercise and other personal care activities will help you get more out of each hour.
- Do activities in chunks. When a runner works out, they do so in one chunk of time, without stopping. Even when they come to a street corner and wait for a light, they will run in place. Stop and start, stop and start, stop and start in our activities keeps us in a constant state of warm-up. By “chunking,” we warm-up once and then get into a groove that makes us more efficient.
- Eliminate distractions. Distractions often rob us of the time we need to get work done in an efficient manner. Having someone hold your calls (or letting it go to voicemail) or going to a place where you will not be interrupted will help you maximum your efforts.
- Less is more. Another way to say this is quality versus quantity. By putting less on your calendar each day you give yourself more quality time on each activity and allow yourself some space to deal with those “unexpected” activities that tend to pop up.
- Use a daily planner or calendar software. There are many different paper and paperless planning tools available today. Examples include DayTimer or DayRunner calendars and ACT or Goldmine software. Pick the one that feels right for you. You may even want to create your own!
- Say “No” as a means of simplification. Often, “maybe” really means “no.” By saying no more often, you automatically cut your workload. Practice saying “no” for a week and notice what happens.
- Create more time. Find at least one activity in your schedule that is not giving you the pay-off you want. Remove it and enjoy the time you get in return.
- Automate. Benefit from technology. From telephone systems to computer software, there are many choices of ways to automate tasks in your day that can take up time. Especially those activities that you may not enjoy.
- Delegate. There are often activities that need to be done, but you do not necessarily need to be the one to do them. If delegating to internal staff is not an option, look outside of your organization for a company that provides that service. Almost every task imaginable can be outsourced to a vendor specializing in that area.
- Integrate. This is especially helpful when you combine an activity you enjoy with one you do not. An example is playing music in the background while making cold calls.
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Time is a natural resource given to each of us one day at a time (you can even make a case that it is granted one second at a time!). My hope is that you will invest a few minutes of your time to implement some of these ideas or create and use a few of your own. The gift you get in return could be even more time for work, or even better, play! <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>