It is often quoted that time is one of the most important resources that we have in our lives, it is also different to all other resources in as much as we can’t increase the amount of time we have in our day. It’s equal for everyone. Billionaire, millionaire or pauper, everyone only gets 24 hours in a day.
We must ensure that we keep wasted time to a minimum; unfortunately one of the biggest time wasters is our inability to control our need to know what’s going on. Curiosity can become our downfall: How many new twitter followers have I gained? Do I have any new email messages? How many people have visited my website in the last hour? Has anyone else liked my facebook page? There are many other forms of inquisitiveness that could be added to this list. Unfortunately, frequently indulging your inquisitiveness can have an adverse effect on your time management.
Small Amounts of Wasted Time Add Up
Do you realise the true cost of wasted time? If you waste just 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you will waste the equivalent of a 40-hour working week each year. If you struggle with your time management, it could be because small amounts of lost time tend to add up to large amounts of lost time.
Curiosity Causes a Loss of Momentum
Constantly checking your email, costs you more time than just the time taken to open your email account and read the message. You have to resume the task that you have put to one side to check the email when you’re finished. Research shows that it can take twenty to thirty minutes to regain our focus on the task we have just put to one side.
You may lose your train of thought, lose your place in the report you were reading, or even worse, some people forget what you were doing in the first place. If you’re not careful you fall into a vicious cycle, you know the one; you respond to a message and then you have to keep checking back to see if they have responded to your message, you then respond to theirs and on it goes.
So What’s the answer?
Don’t be a slave to your messages
I know you may find this hard to accept, but your messages can wait!! Most people can get away with checking their email a maximum of twice a day. believe it or not social media sites are the same. These types of distractions are seldom critical; if someone’s message is critical, they’ll find a way to get through to you.
Schedule When You Will Check your Messages
Set aside a specific time to check emails and other messages. Perhaps you might choose to only deal with email at the beginning and end of the day. To make the best use of your time, all you have to do is set a schedule and stick to it.
Let People Know How You Work
Let people know that you only check your email at certain times of the day. You will soon discover that if they need to communicate something really important they will find another way. If it’s not really important, there is a chance that they will not send the email at all. Even less work for you. There will be less messages for you to be distracted by, leaving you better able to focus on your work.
We all have little things that we do to waste time. Some of the curiosity-based time wasters are the hardest to ignore. Acknowledge how much time it costs you each year – time that you will never recover – time that could be used more effectively and efficiently.
The simple time management strategies mentioned above can be summarised as make a schedule to check messages and Inform other people of your plan, implement these time management tips and I guarantee that others will adapt to your way of working and nothing critical will be missed.
Till Next Time
Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor