Here’s why we all need these 4 time management hacks. You and I live in an interconnected, hyper-paced world. There are not enough hours in the day, are there? I want you to think about something, is time as valuable as money? I think it might be more important, but that might be my age talking. Here’s the thing, most of us have some control over our money; we deposit our checks and pay our bills online. We have an idea of how much money we have, and if we’re fortunate, we might even save some of our hard-earned cash. But what about time? Do we keep track of it, save, or bank it? My educated guess is most people don’t spend much time trying to save time.

We all know that saving money is good. It’s something we should strive to do. Saving money by using coupons, saving towards retirement with a 401K, and opening a savings account are all good things. However, when it comes to time management most people don’t look at how much time they squander and how it could be saved. You cannot put time in a savings account, but you can save time. Time saved can be used to increase productivity, venture into new arenas’ or just enjoy yourself. So, how can you save time? Here are 4 time management hacks.

  1. The Gumption Factor

The Gumption Factor is simply doing the most difficult, least appealing task first. Okay, it’s not always possible, but when you have the choice, began your day with the activity you least want to do. Trust me. Try this. When you complete the task, it’s like a weight lifted off your shoulders. The feeling of accomplishment lasts throughout the day.

Sometimes larger tasks need to be segmented. If that’s the case schedule a time slot as the first action of the day to work on the bigger activity. Even though it’s not completed, you’ll still feel the joy of progress.

I was working with a production manager who had eight direct reports. Their schedule was often overbooked and always hectic. Her plan was to begin the day with the easiest tasks to get everyone going. The toughest jobs fell to the end of the day and were often rushed, mistake-prone, and stressful. When she adopted the Gumption Factor, it changed her department. They got more done with less stress and fewer mistakes.

  1. Unplug – Turn off the Ping

Here’s the problem. We’ve been brainwashed into believing we all should be able to multitask. Everyone should have the ability to do your work, answer an email, and check social media all at the same time, right? I mean, it’s multitasking! It’s hit a point where if we’re not good “multitaskers” we think something is wrong with us. Well, I’m here to tell you not a darn thing is wrong with you. There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s a myth. None of us multitask; we task switch and that leads to errors, and time wasted going back to the previous task.

“As much as you might feel like you have the ability to read your email, talk on the phone and engage in a Facebook Messenger chat all at once, it’s literally impossible. What you’re doing is playing multiple games of “red light/green light” in your brain — constantly starting and stopping each task repeatedly. This is known in psychology as “serial tasking,” not multitasking.” — Why Multitasking Is a Myth That’s Breaking Your Brain and Wasting Your Time

“Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.” — American Psychological Association Multitasking: Switching costs

More than 1/4 of your day 

“The average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey analysis. For the average full-time worker in America, that amounts to a staggering 2.6 hours spent, and 120 messages received per day.” — Harvard Business Review. And that’s only email! Most people spend hours per day checking and answering the ping on text and social media as well. So, what can be done? Take charge. For example, I only receive pings for texts and rings for calls. I’ve turned off all other notifications.

I manage 18 social media accounts and at one time I received notifications for every single one of them. It eventually became difficult to get anything done. Especially since I’m so easily led down a rabbit hole. So, I turned them off, and I let people know that if they urgently need to contact me, call or text.

So, what to do? 

Do what I do. Turn off the ping. Not only do I manage 18 social media accounts, I have three emails, and four blogs and the only alerts I receive are texts and phone calls. I inform people that if the communication is urgent, phone or text me because I only check email three times a day, and I’m not always on social media. So, if you want to bank some time, turn off your alerts.

I can conservatively guess I’ve improved my time available to work on projects by 20% or more. What would you do with 20% more time in your workday?

  1. Understand the Difference Between Urgent and Important Tasks

We’re all faced with urgent tasks at work and home daily. I define important tasks as those that help us reach our goals and urgent tasks as those sudden fires that come up that “only” we can handle. And you know what, sometimes we are the only ones who can put out the fire.

At the same time, we have our important tasks to complete. These are the tasks that help us reach our goals, get the job done, and drive our mission. The trouble is that when we jump to those urgent tasks, we often do so at the expense of our important activities. The truth is, sometimes you may need to put out the fires, but before you run to the flames ask yourself the following:

  • Am I the best choice to do this? Is there someone else that should or could take this on?
  • Do I need to do this right this minute? When’s the best time to handle this?
  • If I jump to the urgent task, what am I leaving?
  • Will I not be able to complete an important task that I’m in the middle of?
  • And If I jump from this task, how long will it take to re-immerse myself in it?
  • Does this require my direction

After answering these questions, you may conclude that yes, you need to douse the flames. However, sometimes you’ll find a better answer and stay on the task at hand, and that’s like putting time in a bank. You might find that it isn’t always you that needs to be the fire marshal.

      4. Limit Interruptions

A few years ago, a customer service rep came to me for advice. She had a complicated project to complete for a major client and she couldn’t find the time to do it. Her job wasn’t only to process orders and satisfy customers, it was liaison between the customer and every department in her organization from production to shipping. There wasn’t a minute of the day that someone wasn’t vying for her attention. I suggested she create a golden hour. A time when, unless it was an absolute emergency, she wasn’t to be disturbed.

Her first reaction was she couldn’t do that – what if someone needed her? I asked if she attended meetings every week and went to lunch most days and she said yes. So, I asked what happens when someone needs you then? She said they take a message or leave a voice mail. I looked at her said they can do the same for your golden hour, but you’ll have to train them.

She chose 8 to 9 am as her golden hour. The first couple of weeks she did this she had to remind people when they interrupted her that she was in her golden hour. However, in less than a month she had completed the project and began taking other tasks into her golden hour.

Only 4 Time Management Hacks?

Okay, there’s more, such as learning to say no, making time to plan, quit micromanaging, and reducing procrastination, but this is enough to start. I might write a follow-up, but for now, work on these 4 time management hacks.

You can’t talk (or read) shit done so if you want to improve your time management you have to take action. If you follow these 4 time management hacks you will save time. Ask yourself is it urgent or important, turn off the ping, limit interruptions, and have some gumption.

So, what would you do with 30% more time to your workday? Get ahead, complete that big project that’s been hanging over your head, take a course? Will you save 30 % of the time you squander at the office? From personal experience I think more than 30 %. So, what will you do with the time you save?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash