Beat the Clock

Tips for better managing your time

By Jackie Gaines

Time. Ask today’s professionals what they could use more of, and you’ll most likely get that answer in every instance. In the frantic pace of the digital age, where customer to-do lists play out like a game of “Beat the Clock,” time is something everyone seems to be short on now.

Remember when we thought technology would help create more leisure time? Here’s the challenge – Figure out how to make the most of your waking moments, and things may be far more productive.
Following are tips you can use to keep your customers and your employees on track:
CHOOSE HUMAN CONNECTION OVER TECHNOLOGY

While technology has improved our lives, it comes with its own set of problems. Sure, texts and emails are convenient, but they create room for confusion and miscommunication. Whenever possible, go face-to-face to get your message across clearly.

SET ACHIEVABLE GOALS EACH DAY

Even the most thoughtfully constructed to-do list is useless if it’s too ambitious. What’s the point of writing down unachievable tasks? Make your daily goals small enough that you can actually get them done. Remember that you can always do more if you have the time.

GIVE MULTITASKING THE AX

There are times when multitasking can be ineffective and counterproductive. People work best when they give focused attention to the task at hand. If the task is important enough, work it and give yourself permission to forget about other priorities until it is done.

LISTEN UP!

Active listening consists of being present and engaged when communicating with another person. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s common to forget to listen after you speak your thoughts, and you often lose important info as a result. When you’re talking with a coworker, manager or anyone else, be sure you turn off that pesky inner monologue and focus when it is the other person’s turn to speak.

DON’T BE A SHEEP

While maintaining the status quo often is a good thing, there may come a time when it’s advisable to stop following the herd and innovate in the name of productivity. If you can envision a way to work smarter and better, you may just create new best practices that inspire others to save time and increase quality.

STOP SHUFFLING PAPERS

Most of us waste a lot of time shuffling papers from one pile to another. Chances are that your plate is full of things you don’t know what to do with. Stop this maddening cycle by touching each sheet of paper just once and figure out the appropriate action. Put it in a to-do pile so you can deal with it immediately.

STOP OWNING OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF

How often do you hear yourself saying, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself”? More often than you’d like, right? The solution is to hold others accountable for their responsibilities. That means everybody. Let “never mind…” be the exception instead of the rule.

LEARN TO DELEGATE

Learn to know when to let someone else handle a task. It can be hard to relinquish control, but it’s also necessary to delegate, especially if you’re in a leadership position. Remember that delegating is not admitting you can’t handle your responsibilities – not at all. Rather, it’s about maximizing the potential of your entire workforce.

HAVE SOME FUN

It’s important to remember that stressed-out people aren’t all that productive. You must learn to relax and schedule “recharge time.” It helps prevent burnout. Be sure to try and make work fun. Find ways to infuse a little light-hearted play into your workday.

Remember that you have two choices when trying to manage your time. You can either let your priorities and obligations run your life, or you can take charge of your minutes and let them work for you to achieve your goals in a timely manner. While you won’t ever succeed long-term by racing the clock, you can drop your bad habits, improve ineffective practices, and kick stress to the curb so that your whole life improves.

Jackie Gaines is a high-performing senior executive with a progressive career encompassing more than 38 years of sustained leadership and accomplishments. She also is the author of several books, including “Wait a Hot Minute! How to Manage Your Life with the Minutes You Have,” and “Destination Infinity: Reflections and Career Lessons from a Road Warrior.”

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