It is critical to take initiative in managing time, because people who take initiative in managing their time (along with project focus), are very successful in taking initiative on their projects and goals. This, in turn, leads to great results.
One of the cornerstones of Time Management is setting up a system that limits interruptions. It takes up to 40 minutes to regain focus on a task, so distractions can add time to a day as well as frustration. There are two keys to avoiding interruptions.. One must deal with emails, which will be addressed today, and “drop ins.” (Ideas for dealing with drop ins will be addressed in the next article)
If you have made it a point to respond instantly to email, then you are being constantly interrupted. To-do lists need to be evaluated with an honest assessment of the time needed to accomplish the task. People can be taught that you will be answering emails at a specific time, and directly available during certain hours. Focus during reserved time periods gets increasingly better as focus on your own projects takes place at a fairly regular time. One also needs to get the materials needed in advance, because the temptation to check email constantly for answers leads to being constantly focused on responding. Though some people say they are good at dual focus, chances are they will not be turning out their best work.
People will adapt to clear statements of availability. Let them know when they can expect you to respond to emails. There may be “urgent” matters, but most people will send an email while they are thinking of it and not expect a response until whatever time is set. There are people who may test this at first, (or even later on), but most people respect it. If a need to send a note to someone surfaces, jot a note to email them later. Huge amounts of time may still be spent emailing, but there will be a surprising amount of focused time as well.
This is true at home. Checking email constantly in the evening is a deterrent to focus on family or friends. A lot of people can be observed checking email or even Face Book while at dinner with someone else. They may respond to email as well. Some people can be insulted by this and relationships injured because their companion is not really there. “Quality time” is a myth if there are multiple interruptions.
There is sometimes guilt that comes from having team members that work after they get home because of the sense that one look committed or busy and spend as much time. Once one responds to online conversation or email it is “open season.” Another thing not to forget is the computer alerts people as to who is on line. Sometimes it is better to turn this feature off.
Of course with International Business, there sometimes needs to be late evening phone calls or email. It is a matter of picking times and setting boundaries. Some people even think to negotiate this time at home, and with dual jobs may even have to. It is important to remember that relationships may drift, or worse case, lead to separation if people remain focused on their jobs when at home.
A large number of people were asked to fill out a survey as to where there time goes and how many hours are spent on specific tasks including emails, projects,sleep and people time. It is actually the norm for people to list much more than 24 hours!
This is where addressing the first cornerstone can make a huge difference. One is not so “spread out” and can actually speed up response time to key issues, especially those requiring references, reporting, or key information.