Hi SOTGC community,
If you work from home like I do, then you know all too well how easy it is to become distracted. A few personal email responses, a scroll through of the Facebook newsfeed, and a couple of text messages later can all lead up to 15- and 20-minute increments of time that can derail you from deadlines.
In order to prevent this from happening and work towards more efficiency during the day (which ultimately leads to less clocked hours!), try out a few of these time management tips:
Identify your distractions. For me, TV is the ultimate distraction, even if I’ve seen an episode a hundred times. Music can also be a distraction if I’m under a tight deadline or am trying to research for an article I’m writing. Background TV noise or low music is good if I’m brainstorming ideas, scheduling social media posts, or responding to emails. But if I need to really focus I have to do so in silence or go to a website called coffitivity.com. I laughed when my brother first suggested this site to me, but its “stations” are set to background coffee shop noise, which sounds a little silly, but the steady hum really does the trick.
Take breaks. Even if you do not work from home, breaks are essential to the work day. Try not to have your eyes on any screen, even your cell phone, while you get up and take a walk around the block, meditate, or read a few chapters of a book. Whatever can decompress your mind for 10 or 15 minutes, take advantage at least twice a day. When I take break, I feel more focused when I return to my desk, which helps me manage my time better.
Do not keep unnecessary computer tabs open. I made this mistake early on and it’s all too tempting to just “check real quick” your email, social media news, or other inane things like the weather (which I’ve been known to do). Those few minutes add up, so shut down all unnecessary tabs and put your phone on silent when you are on deadline.
Calendar your projects. I love Google Calendar and use it for my day-to-day meetings, project deadlines, invoice reminders, etc. I used to make a list of all my projects for the day without allocating a specific time for each project. This turned into working on a project much longer due to my feeling that I had all day to get it done. Now I break up the projects on my calendar and assign specific time allotments. For those days I go past my goal, it’s usually only about 20 or 30 minutes rather than a couple of hours.
When I started to adjust my time management in these little ways, I noticed some days I would be finished with my scheduled work in six hours instead of eight or nine. At first I worried, thinking I was forgetting something, but then realized that all those distractions had literally left hours of time I had previously wasted throughout the day.
Now when I’m done for the day, I can take that time to truly relax without the distraction of work or deadlines for the next day.
I’d love to hear about time-saving tips that have helped you! Tweet me @mscourtneybeth and let me know how you get through your deadlines.