Time Management – get more done.

Everyone says get to bed early and wake up early. And for about 90% of us that is the right recommendation. And if you are part of the 10%-night owls I’m not going to try to get you to change. And frankly, as work requirements are more flexible, adaptable and virtual of late, there are fewer challenges for night owls to get into work by 8AM… for many professions.

But, here is one truth that is important for all of us to know – no matter when you like to get up.

We are all strategically at our best from about 1 hour after to about 5 or 6 hours after we wake up. Even if we feel tired because we cared for a newborn or an aging parent, you can’t argue that we are still most rested after we wake up.

Three other amazing best practices that help early birds and moderates get more done:

1. Get to work early.

When we get to work early, it is usually the quietest part of our day. Before other coworkers, customers or suppliers get organized and begin bugging us we can get lots done.

2. Don’t plan meetings until at least 10AM or 11AM.

Meetings are often some of our most unproductive time. So, try to get as much strategic time in as possible. Remember, you are at your best up to 5 or 6 hours after you wake up so use that as your guide. Create a policy that restricts early morning meetings for your team. Try not to let meetings happen before 10 or 11AM.

If you lead a team or department and can’t get the meeting moved, check to see how critical it is that you attend. Perhaps you can send someone else from your team and then have them give you a quick update early in the afternoon. This time management best practice has two additional benefits including:

  • It’s likely a career development opportunity for a junior team member
  • A quick update will take less time than sitting through a whole meeting.

3. Use your travel time strategically.

I don’t necessarily mean work work work. Sure, getting a bit more work done may be your decision for today, but good time management also could mean giving yourself time to do some inspirational reading, or to hand-write a note to a friend, family member or an employee who has done a great job living up to the corporate values.

What I mean by use your travel time strategically is do something that is planned – even if your plan is to rest or daydream. Mixing up your routine and turning off the radio, or turning on a podcast is often one of the healthiest things we can do and is often one of the things we don’t often allow ourselves to do.

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and getting more done.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

What Is Procrastination?

What is procrastination and how can we minimize procrastination for ourselves and our team members? We all procrastinate; it’s one of the primary causes of poor time management.

My Procrastination Definition

Procrastination is the intentional avoidance of doing something you should be doing that is also important. For me procrastination has to involve an important task. If the task is not important and you don’t do it (or you delegate it), you may in fact be practicing good time management.

Activities like sleeping and daydreaming are not procrastination… unless you do them to avoid doing something important.

The following are five common reasons why you may procrastinate (note: procrastination may encompass more than one of the following).

  1. The task and/or the outcome is unpleasant for you
  2. The task is uninteresting – boring even
  3. You don’t care about the outcome
  4. You don’t know how to begin (which may mean the objectives were not clearly given)
  5. You fear you will fail

Lets look at an example.

Your boss asks you to consider hiring their friends’ child between university semesters. They meet the job criteria so you hire them.
Unfortunately they consistently arrive late and are indifferent to detail. You provide repeated feedback but your efforts fail to improve their performance.

While you are justified to fire this person you procrastinate.  With the help of your mentor you discover you are procrastinating because you:

  1. Fear that if your boss is unhappy (or if this negatively impacts his personal friendship), that this will impact your career.
  2. Have never had to fire someone and you don’t know how.

Both of these responses are completely normal. Unfortunately doing nothing is a greater risk as co-workers, your boss and customer’s may be noticing. Furthermore, you may feel guilty, frustrated and personally demoralized. Often the longer you procrastinate:

  • The more anxiety you will feel
  • The harder the work will be when you get started
  • The less opportunity you will have to delegate or get other support
  • The lower the quality of your work
  • The most damage to your reputation

When you procrastinate on important stuff you deprive yourself of the success, the experience and the pride from a job well done. So what should you do? The following are a few procrastination solutions.

How To Stop Procrastinating 

  • List all the things that are important to you / your job then list all the things that you are busy with that are not important to you / your job. Refocus your activities on the things that are important and plan how to get them done. This is a powerful time management technique.
  • If it’s important –  start it now. Planning may be your best solution. List all the critical milestones that may be required (you may not list them all immediately… but it will be a start). Next, break those milestones down even further. Include timelines – even really high-level start / end dates. By beginning to explore the steps you can start to see where you can begin the project large tasks start to appear more manageable.
  • Don’t focus on what you can’t do – focus on what you can do.
  • Don’t let a concern of being perfect stop you… especially during the scoping / planning phase. Consider the 80/20 rule; you may be able to delegate the 20% that you will want to procrastinate on to someone who is interested in that work.
  • List all of the pros vs. cons of starting the project… especially if there may be serious +ve or -ve repercussions. By listing all the pros you can help sell the benefit of your actions. By listing all the cons you can try to minimize them or at least be prepared for them.
  • Hold a brainstorming session with your team. Ask for volunteers to work on certain milestones… or delegate. Now you can act as manager and mentor and learn with your staff.
  • Call on your mentor – ask them for guidance.
  • Use the Internet. There is a lot of great support in blog posts and articles. If you find an article you like try to connect via email or LinkedIn with the author. If you are in the same city the author might be able to meet with you. Networking has changed so change with it.

Conclusion

Knowing your personal procrastination weaknesses helps you manage them and not let them run you.

Try a few of the ‘How To Stop Procrastination’ suggestions and you will learn how to stop procrastinating. You’ll also see important components of the project you can (and should), delegate to others. Your pride and confidence will increase, as you stop procrastinating and feel better about your work and yourself.

Happy communicating… Happy training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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