Busy people often wish for more hours in the day, but leadership consultant Joelle Jay, Ph.D, says, “When you maximize your time, you actually do have more hours in the day.”
Jay, president of Pillar Consulting, says the key to maximizing time is following these five shortcuts:
1. Modeling: In many industries, modeling is a strategy used to mock up an end product before investing the time, effort and expense required to complete it. You can use this technique to maximize your time by writing down the way you’d like the next stretch of time to look. Design your ideal day, week, month or year so you’ll know what is possible.
2. Define your time: Think about various activities that take your time and group them together. Start with meeting days, days you keep to yourself to do your own work, flex days (where you have a cushion for spillover activities,) administrative days for catching up on paperwork and days off. If you don’t define your days, you will bounce around from one activity to another. Time is lost as you try to transition from a high-energy activity to one that requires you to be calm and quiet. Defining your time allows you to get into one mindset for a particular activity and stay there, thereby accomplishing more in less time.
3. Make appointments with yourself: You make appointments with others and you keep them. So set up a meeting with yourself, for a specific purpose and be there to get the job done. Jay says you don’t need to set up a weekly meeting. “You might just need to make one appointment to do some quality thinking or make some important phone calls that keep getting brushed aside. The important part of this strategy is the fact that you recognize there’s something specific you want to do, decide when you’re going to do it and schedule the time. Keep that appointment and you’ll have the time you need, guaranteed.”
4. Breaking time rules: People operate on unspoken time rules, such as, you must work eight to 10 hours per day or you must be available by phone or email at all times. But you can escape the rules of time. Maybe you’d rather leave work every day at 3 p.m., but work six days per week. Start defining the length of your workday by the results you achieve instead of the hours you work. If you think this won’t work in your company, have you checked? “Ask for what you want. Make a proposal. If you’re willing to be fair, negotiate and persist, you will be surprised at how accommodating others will be,” she says.
5. Replace multitasking with unitasking: When you multitask, your actions become fragmented, your thinking is interrupted, you make hasty decisions and you do things poorly. The solution is to do one thing at a time, even for a short time. It will improve your concentration, calm you down and allow you to get more done in less time. Practice doing one thing at a time as much as you can. Set the time aside, focus, concentrate and you’ll get your tasks done fast and well, says Jay.
“You will never have control of your time until you take control of it,” she says. “When you implement these five shortcuts, you’ll feel like you accomplish more because the time you use will be most productive. Stop long enough to get a handle on how you want to spend your time and then implement these new ways to maximize the time you do have.”