Sponsored Post : Busy people would always like to save time but what exactly do we mean by that.
“Time-saving” in the Collins English Dictionary is defined as “shortening the length of time required for an operation or activity”. Other definitions include “designed to help you to do something more quickly”.
Time management guru’s talk about planning and focus. But it is not easy to avoid interruptions in a small business where you have to do a multitude of different tasks.
Writing this article for instance. It should take 30 minutes but if I allow distractions it could be several hours or more before I’m done.
If you are doing something you are not particularly keen on your brain is sub-consciously looking for any excuse to do something else. An incoming telephone call is a perfect interruption. Even if it is a brief call it will destroy your thought process and wastes time as you try to get back to where you were. In the worst case the telephone call may require you to do something else more interesting than the task in hand. You may get to the end of the day with the main task still unfinished. You tell yourself not to worry, surely tomorrow will be better, won’t it?
How do you plan your day to get the key tasks finished and deal with the interruptions? One technique is to visualise all your tasks as different size pebbles and your day as a jar.
The quick less important jobs are small pebbles, but if you put all the small pebbles in the jar first there will no be room for the two or three large pebbles. Those large pebbles, your most important tasks, spill over to tomorrow. So you need to plan when the big pebbles are going in and allow the small pebbles to fill in the gaps in between.
What techniques can you adopt to help?
I’ve mentioned the telephone calls so let’s start with them. You could let your calls go to the answerphone but that takes a lot of will power and does not sound professional to your caller. An alternative is to use a virtual receptionist service such as Office Answers. You divert your telephone to the service and calls are answered by a live receptionist as if they were in your office. It sounds professional to the caller and the receptionist will explain you are busy at the moment. They will inform the caller that you should be able to return their call within a couple of hours. The receptionist sends you an email with the caller’s details and their message.
Another technique it not to be distracted by emails. Do you get a popup message on your desktop when a new email arrives? This will distract you and tempt you to take a look and do a quick reply. If using Outlook the icon changes when there is a new unread email which can have the same effect.
The simplest approach is to turn off your emails when doing your important task. A more sophisticated solution in Outlook is to change the notifications. Go to File > Options > Mail. In the Message arrival section turn off all the notifications.
I hope this article gives you some ideas on how to get more done in less time and motivates you to get those key tasks planned into your day.