Time is one of the most valuable commodities in our lives, and it’s one that shows no bias. Heck, even a famous billionaire only gets 24 hours in a day.
And, I don’t know about you, but even when I have the best of intentions and plans for using every minute of my time effectively, I find myself slipping into a very common trap.
My mind, it wanders.
Do I have a text message? I wonder if I have any new email. How many visitors have been to my website in the last hour? The list goes on–and I’m sure yours does too.
But as we all know too well, this amazing technology that connects us can also be our undoing, if we’re not careful.
How much time does this stuff take, really? So, you only spend 10 minutes a day on email? Get this: a mere 10 minutes of time each day, 5 days a week, is equivalent to a 40-hour workweek each year.
That’s right–an entire week. Can’t get your reports done on time? Now you know part of the reason why. Lost time adds up.
Don’t lose momentum. Pulling away from your regular work to check your email costs you more time than just what you use to pull up your email account and read.
You still have to get back on track when you’re finished with the email. You may lose your train of thought, lose your place in the memo you were reading, or misplace something.
Even worse, you may forget what you were doing in the first place. You know what happens next.You respond to that email or text and then you have to keep checking back to see what their response is–sometimes, it never ends.
So how do you make effective changes?
Remember that it can wait. Most people can get away with checking their personal email once a day. Me, I have to check it a bit more often, but I try to do it at scheduled intervals.
Texting can be done the same way, if it works for you.
These types of distractions are seldom critical; if someone’s message does happen to be critical, they’ll find a way to get through to you. If you’ve got kids, be sure to let their sitter or school know how to reach you in an emergency.
Schedule it. As I mentioned, I set aside specific times each day to check on all of those little distractions. Maybe you’ll choose to only deal with email at the end of the workday or only text for 10 minutes before bed.
Whatever you’re perpetually curious about, set aside some time each day to address it that works for you. To maximize your efficiency, all you have to do is stick to the schedule.
Inform people. If everyone knows that you only look at email between 4:45pm and 5:00pm, they’ll call you if they need to communicate something really important. If it’s not really important, they might not send the email at all. This might even mean less work for you.
Additionally, you’ll find that people won’t bother you with text messages during the day if they know you’re not going to answer them anytime soon. With less stuff to distract you, you’ll be able to better focus on your work.
It’s not selfish–it’s self-preservation.
We all have little things we do to waste time. Some of those are curiosity-based and often the most challenging to ignore. Acknowledge the amount of time it costs you each year – time that you can never get back – time that could be more effectively utilized.
Most things can wait. Consider how often you really need to check these distractions and make a schedule for them. By informing the appropriate people of your plan, you can be sure they’ll adapt and nothing critical will be missed.
Take back control of your time. You can, and you’ll be so much happier if you do.
What are your best ideas for taking control of your time? Share them in the comments section, below.