A particularly busy week at Rambutan got Jami-Lei thinking about the importance of the minutes rather than the hours when carrying out tasks at work.
Sometimes you can come into work at the start of the week, look at your diary, and most of your time is already spoken for. This isn’t a bad thing – lots of tasks and responsibilities require planning for a week in advance. But for me to feel like I am making the most of my time, I need to find the balance between time that is accounted for by others and time that I have managed myself. This is where the minutes can mean more than the hours. At times when my schedule is busy, it matters even more that I’m productive in the minutes during and between different appointments or tasks, to get everything done and also to feel satisfied at the end of the day.
When I organise my diary with all the things I have to do in the day/week, I always block time out using 30 minutes or an hour as a starting point. Even if the task should take only 15 minutes to complete, I’ll still allot it a 30-minute section in my diary. I started doing this because it looked better aesthetically, but then I realised that I’d developed a bad habit of allowing extra time for doing ’bits and bobs’ or lengthening a task unnecessarily by over-researching it or going into too much detail.
Recently I read a blog that advised people to “focus on the minutes, not the hours”, and it brought me back to this. Time is practically invaluable at work or out of work, and according to this article on Forbes.com 89% of people admit to wasting at least 30 minutes a day at work. In the same article, there’s another survey which supposedly shows what people are doing in that time. The first half of the list of distractions shows what I would expect – mobile phone activities, internet and social media, snack and smoke breaks – but then 23% say that they waste time daily in meetings or on email. Surely this isn’t time-wasting, compared to the other entries on the list? (According to getminute.com, 33.4% of meeting time feels unproductive. But whether meetings themselves are time-wasting or not is a whole new blog!)
So what habits can we adopt that will make us better at time management?
- be selective with multi-tasking so you don’t end up doing a few things at once then having something come up that needs to be taken care of immediately. It’s easier to delay one task than five at once
- picture your day before you start and set your expectations. If you know that today you’re going to need to get your head down and complete your work to a deadline, set yourself up for this in the morning. Consider booking a meeting room just for yourself if you need to
- know how to pace yourself. Get to know how long it takes you to complete regular activities and stick to those times so you can always plan the things you do every day down to the minute
- keep all your work in one place. If you’re going to and fro between a meeting room, a desk and a cupboard, it might get confusing and it’d definitely save time if you don’t have to jog to get your next piece of work
- acknowledge your distractions and save them for your lunch break, or when you’re at home. I know when I was writing this blog I came across at least three articles I wanted to read! Bookmark whatever you find that interests you onto your browser and come back to it when you have free time
- factor in a slot for fun! You don’t just have to block out time in your diary for work-related activities, and it’s important not to view everything that isn’t work-related as a distraction
How well do you manage your time? Got any more tips to share with us?