Time is a precious commodity, yet I don’t see it treated with the respect its due. Everybody is busy shifting from one priority to another, always overloaded, always rushed, and always focused on what’s next.
Check out these three opportunities to recapture time.
Taming Your Meetings: Are you a middle manager who spends about 35 percent of your time in meetings or perhaps, you’re in upper management where you spend a whopping 50 percent of your time in meetings?[i] Many find them a total waste of time, aren’t they?
Challenge yourself right now: “In which meetings I’ve attended has my presence contributed to the discussion or made a difference to the outcome?” Those are your keepers.
Begin by examining:
- Could you have added value if you came to the meeting with ideas or spoke up more? Then, commit to becoming a key player at every meeting you attend.
- Is there someone you can delegate the meeting to so that it will improve their knowledge of the company or add needed skill sets for their future career development?
- Introduce efficiencies: always have an agenda with clearly defined objectives (discussion, decision, etc.); set predetermined time limits for each item; verify every attendee adds value (because their time is valuable too), and send off-purpose topics to the “parking lot” (to be scheduled for a future meeting).
- Broach eliminating unproductive meetings. Make sure everyone understands your objective is to gain much needed time for you and everyone to work on larger, impact projects for your organization.
Disruption Landslide: One of the biggest time wasters is all the interruptions occurring around you. Some are aspects of your job. You need to handle them while others suck your time with a modest return on your investment.
Everyone, on average, is interrupted 7 times per hour, lasting about 5 minutes per incident. Wow! Research shows we’re losing approximating 4 hours a day, and yet 80 percent assessed the interruption as having “little value to no value.”[ii]
- Schedule time for interruptions because you know they’re coming. You’ll find them less frustrating when you proactively manage the out of control a bit.
- Develop a “talk to” file for each person you deal with regularly. Advise them to hold questions for scheduled meetings unless it’s an emergency—and role model this behavior. You’ll soon learn who has a handle on what is urgent and what isn’t, allowing you to mentor self-sufficiency.
- Interruptions are often nothing more than a process failure. Soon you’ll begin recognizing consistent patterns, respond to them as you would any other system breakdown because that’s what they are.
Procrastinating Is Not Your Friend: It’s the “Biglier” syndrome—you judge something is BIGGER and UGLIER than anyone can ever imagine. Fear habitually lurks beneath the surface. It has you scrambling to find “legitimate” reasons to work on something else—anything else, even organizing paper clips!
Procrastination has you sitting on a time bomb just waiting to blow you and your career up when you least expect it.
It’s a battle that must be fought and won. Create the mindset of action, action, action. It will free up your calendar. Whatever you do, start by touching it, even if only for five minutes. It’s the pathway out of procrastination that moves you into the prosperous world of achievement.
Gaining mastery in these three areas opens your calendar to bring the meaningful back into your schedule. Remember, all of us manage the same amount of time every day. How you employ it determines whether you enjoy a satisfying, fulfilling career and life—or not.