In my last blog – the first on the subject of self-management and time management – I discussed the right way to plan and set priorities. Today, I will give you some tips on how to eliminate tasks that waste time, increase the efficiency of your meetings and get your thoughts in order.
If you have tried out some of the methods I presented in my last blog, you will no doubt have come to the conclusion that you spend a lot of time doing things that are time-consuming but are of little benefit. I will therefore offer you a few practical tips on this today.
Focus instead of multitasking: Multitasking makes you slower and leads to more errors, as research has clearly shown. Do one thing at a time instead of several things at once. I’ll discuss this topic in more detail in my blog another time.
Not-to-do list: Last week, I recommended that you should create a to-do list. Today, I am recommending that you also draw up a not-to-do list: What will you NOT do today? For example, aimlessly surfing the Internet for long periods of time.
Track your social media usage: Make use of the Quality Time or Offtime apps to check how much time you spend each week on different social media. I can guarantee: You will be alarmed by your findings and may well change your habits. These apps also include functions that allow you to switch off individual apps for a certain amount of time.
Switch off push notifications: We are confronted with constant ringing and beeping – and it is no wonder we can’t concentrate, meaning that our efficiency and effectiveness are impacted. When I hear or see that I have received a new mail or WhatsApp message, it is very difficult NOT to look and see who has sent me an exciting or important message (or an unexciting or unimportant one, as the case may be). My advice is therefore: Turn your phone to silent, mute the sound on your computer and you will be less distracted from your work. It can also be helpful if – depending on your computer system – you can switch off the pop-up function that shows new messages on your screen. There are more technical options to help you eliminate distractions than you might think.
Place your mobile phone out of sight: It is a proven fact that if your mobile phone is lying on your desk (or on the table during meals with your family), it will distract you, even if you are not aware of it. Studies have shown that you will be less focused on work or on your family. You should therefore put your mobile phone in a desk drawer or in your bag.
More efficient meetings: When I run my workshops and carry out exercises on the topic of energy thieves and energy sources (see my previous blogs: energy thieves, energy sources, interview), I find that participants often mention inefficient meetings as an example of energy thieves. Here is what you can do to make meetings more efficient:
- Start on time, even if not all of the participants have arrived. Latecomers will be on time next time.
- Every meeting needs an agenda that should be adhered to – in terms of content and timing.
- Keep a tight rein on the meeting, e. g. by applying the GEMO (‘Good enough, move on?’) principle.
- Do not include the item ‘Any other business’ or ‘Miscellaneous” on the agenda – otherwise, topics that are unrelated to the meeting will be raised.
- Only discuss matters that really concern everyone present.
- Always plan a few minutes at the end in which you can discuss how the decisions that were reached will be implemented: Who will do what and when? If necessary, the next meeting date should be fixed immediately so that it is binding for everyone.
- Repeatedly check whether it is really necessary to hold regular meetings.
- Consider standing instead of sitting. Standing meetings always finish sooner!
Interrupt talkative people: There are people who – if you have the “pleasure” of meeting them –
easily steal half an hour or more of your precious time. Do not allow this to happen. Instead, interrupt them after a short time (tell them: “I have to go to a meeting” or “I have to do something urgent”).
Say no: This is connected to the previous point: Have the confidence to say no from time to time and to set boundaries. You don’t always have to be the one to take on a task that has arisen at short notice. Remember, every no is also a yes. You can find out more about setting boundaries in the following blog article: ‘Say yes to saying no’.
Regular filing: Do your filing regularly and keep your desk and office tidy – and your thoughts in order.
Delete unnecessary items immediately: Delete unimportant things immediately after reading them so that your mailbox does not overflow.
Take notes: If you have trouble remembering things, always make notes and then add them to your to-do list. Exercises for concentration and memory training can also help people who have a tendency to be disorganized.
Communicate: Let colleagues in your project team know when you are busy or do not want to be disturbed. This helps them to plan and reduces friction. If you are a line manager, clearly convey your expectations to employees so that they can work efficiently themselves.
Be a role model: As a manager, you are most effective when you set an example for all of the above. That is because your employees will closely watch the way you behave and copy your approach.
I hope that these two blog articles will have shown you some methods that you can easily and immediately put into practice. It is important to remember: It is not a matter of cramming more into your already busy days but rather of delivering better quality work and being more contented and less stressed. This means you will have more time for other things, as Seneca said: “It is not that we have so little time, but that we lose so much.”
© Claudia Kraaz