We all take pride in chalking out our calendars months in advance, and sticking to the tasks sketched out therein. So much so that it has become second nature to us to plan things in advance.
However, have you ever really given deep thought to how much closer are you getting to your actual long-range ambitions? If you sit down and mull over this you might be shocked to realize that despite the seemingly long hours at work and the weeks and months which have rushed by, you are actually no closer to your targets then when you started!
Don’t be alarmed. Take respite in the fact that there are hoards of others who mirror your situation.
The trouble with the conventional time management processes is that don’t take into consideration the real-world realties of today: Where we live and work in the midst of constant distractions, internal as well as external. Technology is one big culprit here. We have become so used to constantly checking our smartphones or tablets for official emails / WhatsApp updates; or getting caught up with n number of things simultaneously that we feel it’s all pretty normal to be a ‘multi-tasker’.
It is not!
To accomplish crucial tasks, it is imperative they get your undivided, unwavering focus – one at a time!
Today, it is more about ‘mind management’ rather than time management.
I’d like to share with you a few tips which have worked for me as far as controlling the mind is concerned, for real time management efficiency.
- Learn to say ‘No’: That’s right. Instead of trying to take in whatever gets heaped onto your work plate, simply pick up tasks that actually matter to your goals. Once you start doing this you would be surprised at the number of mundane tasks you’ve been involved in – and which were eating into your efficiency.
You would miss few opportunities, upset few people, and let go off few things you might have liked to do – but remember, all this won’t actually make a difference in the long run.
- Chalk-out some ‘technology-free’ time: Start out with fifteen minutes, and then work it up to at least an hour. During this time you would put your smartphones / tablets on silent mode and keep them out of view (preferably inside your drawer). This would ensure you are not being continually distracted as you work on the real tasks on hand.
- Schedule some interruption-free time: Not just for yourself, but even for your team as a whole, this could work wonders. During such period, ensure no one disturbs you by knocking at your door, or calling or pinging you on Skype or any other office IC system.
As far as your team is concerned, they should be in agreement for the same vis-à-vis each other so that everyone can sit in peace and focus on important tasks at hand.
- One thing at a time: Stop taking pride in multitasking. Focus only upon a single task at a time. This would increase your mental efficiency as well as make each task completion experience more profound and rewarding. For instance, if you are working on making a powerpoint presentation, do not keep checking your emails, or, for that matter, any other document.
- Keep your focus: Make a habit of always keeping a notepad with you. While working on a task, if you feel inclined to look up something of interest, but not immediately related to the task at hand, simply make a note of it rather than start looking into it immediately.
- Don’t try to act like a 24*7 work dynamo: It is foolish to preen yourself that you are ‘so dedicated’ that you readily reply to emails even at midnight, or send out a report at unearthly hours. Such practice is only robbing you of your efficiency! Remember – it is important for your mental as well as physical health to enjoy some uninterrupted time away from all the work related hassles – be it with family and friends , or simply alone.
Also, I ensure that I personally set my calendar well in advance, at least for each quarter. This gives me clarity as to what all meetings would be held, and which ones I might miss out on if not adjusting my other focus areas. Mind management offers much more than a boost to workplace efficiency – It makes it possible to lead a more fulfilling and meaningful life, both on the professional as well as personal fronts.