Time is the one resource in your life that is neither replenishable nor renewable. Regardless of how you spin it, everyone starts each day on an equal playing field with 24 hours in the time bank. And while people often yearn for more time, what they really need is better time management. Understanding where your time goes, when you are most productive, and why you should protect yourself against distractions are the keys to achieving your max productivity.
Take an Inventory of Your Time
According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers are putting in more hours than expected, averaging 8.5 hours during a normal workday. Moreover, those who worked on the weekend, averaged 5.4 on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s important to understand where your time is going in order to take control of it to be more efficient during your work hours. The age-old saying “don’t work harder, work smarter” is never more appropriate than when discussing time management.
Take an inventory of how you spend your time during a given day. How many hours amount for productivity? How long do you spend checking emails or attending unnecessary meetings? What causes you to work long days or come in the office over the weekend? Once you understand how your time is spent, you will be able to cut out time-wasters and or delegate tasks that other team members could undertake.
Examine Your Most Productive Moments
Whether you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl, everyone has their preferred time of day to work on specific tasks. From creative brainstorming to focused data entry to head-down trailblazing, different types of work are best done at different times of the day. According to Business Insider, most people function best in the morning, and should use the hours before noon to do tasks requiring critical analysis when logic and deduction are at their sharpest. Business Insider also found that the worst time of day for brain function is around 2 and 3 p.m.
However, each person has his or her own preferred work schedule that allows the highest productivity and least amount of time waste. It’s important to understand what works best for you. Are you a morning person who thrives before others arrive? Are you an afternoon workhorse who conquers the mid-day slump with high energy and efficiency? Or are you a night owl whose creativity is actualized when most of the world is asleep? Find out your corner of the day and focus your work schedule accordingly.
Protect Your Margin, Avoid Distractions
When we are stressed-out, overworked or anxious, we tend to be less productive and engaged in our job functions. This usually comes from not protecting your free time, or margin. Interruptions during our day can not only eat into our margin, but they can also derail productivity and cause anxiety. According to Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, founder of The Productivity Institute, an average person is interrupted 50 to 60 times a day, adding up to approximately four hours per day. Of those interruptions, 80% are categorized as “little or no value,” causing three hours of wasted time per day. Over the course of a year, that wasted time amounts to more than 45 days in lost productivity.
If you allow others or unnecessary tasks to control your time, you most likely will oversell and underdeliver your work. Protect your space, avoid distractions, and control the outcome. Time management is key to maintaining a highly productive workplace. Are you ready to take back the hours in your day? It’s about time.