We consider ourselves able to juggle a lot of different things both at home and in the workplace (as Jessica is a new mother, multitasking has taken on new proportions!), but somehow there doesn’t ever seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done. And in the current economic climate, we, like others, are finding that we have more to do and fewer resources with which to do it.
So how do you make the most of the time you have? With all the modern-day distractions we encounter all day long — from the constant ping of our e-mail in-box to call-waiting and cell phones — it’s amazing we get anything done. While we can’t add another day to the week (we always say it wouldn’t matter because we’d fill up that day too!), there are ways you can manage your time to accomplish more things on your to-do list. They include:
1. Create an e-mail free zone. According to time management expert Julie Morgenstern, who wrote a book called Never Check E-Mail in the Morning, it’s important to set aside at least an hour each day where you don’t look at your e-mail. She recommends it be first thing in the morning so you can dedicate that time to working on strategy and big ideas. (TIP: If you don’t open up your e-mail to begin with, you won’t be tempted to look at it.) Once that hour is up, you can check your in-box and, chances are, very few important messages will have been missed during that time. If you absolutely cannot go an entire 60 minutes straight without checking e-mail, break it up into 20 minute increments where you don’t check for 20, then answer e-mail for 20, then don’t check again for 20 more minutes.
2. Write your to-do list at night. Before you leave the office or shut down your laptop for the evening, jot down your assignments for the following day. If you start working on your to-do list when you come in the next morning, you’re already wasting precious time that you could be using to tackle it. It also gives you time to think about your priorities overnight so you can hit the ground running when you get in.
3. Get clear on your priorities. Another phrase Morgenstern uses often is “dance close to the revenue line,” meaning that you should tend to the things that have the biggest impact on your business first and the rest can wait. We live in an age of urgency, where everything seems important and people are looking for instant gratification. (Think about how annoyed you get when your e-mail or text isn’t returned within five minutes. Remember the days when you had to wait for a letter to arrive in the mailbox?) But if you allow yourself to be pulled in too many directions, it’s easy to lose focus of what you really need to do.
Lastly, just know that you’ll rarely get to every single item on your task list in one day — and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. As Scarlett O’Hara so eloquently put it at the end of Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”