“How are you?” “Good, very busy though”.
Busy! Busy, busy, busy, busy. It’s the word so often used to describe how we are, how our days have been, the word that sums up our lives! And don’t we wear it like a badge of honour?! The ‘busier’ we are, the more committed and important we must be. Right? Not necessarily.
People2people have enjoyed partnering with Kate Christie, CEO of Time Stylers, to bring a series of events to our clients across Australia and in New Zealand. With an entertaining and straight-shooting style, Kate shared her smart time investment strategies that can help us free up 30 hours of time a month. 30 hours a month! Imagine what you could do with that time. More time for family and friends, more time on your own health and wellbeing, more time for you! As someone who is almost constantly running (sometimes figuratively, often literally!), and never feels like I have enough time to do what I need to, this definitely piqued my interest. Kate shared a range of strategies for investing our time more SMARTly, but here are just a few that really resonated with me:
Plan to succeed
Write your goals down. Literally put pen to paper and write down what you want to have achieved in six months, one year, five years. Investing the time in writing a clear plan (both professionally and personally) will have a huge pay off in the long run. It will help you to stay focused on the end goal and ensure you invest your time in things that will lead you to achieve this goal! Having a plan means you have a road map for success. You need a map with directions if you are going to reach your desired destination (by the time you want to!).
Control the agenda
We live in a world of open plan offices and hot desking, which means we are forever faced with people just wanting a ‘moment of our time’. If we let those around us control the agenda all the time, we can constantly be jumping from one thing to the next, never really ticking anything off our list. Not during ‘normal hours’ anyway, so we inevitably work at night, on weekends, and eventually burn out. Start your day with a clear agenda and stick to it. If you are focusing on finalising a presentation then discipline yourself to log out of emails, turn your phone off, go somewhere you won’t be interrupted. Take charge of what you do and when.
Focus on the right things at the right time
Work out when you are most effective and do the critical stuff then. Personally, I am one of those nutty pre 5am risers and I know that I am absolutely at my best between 7 – 10am (ask me to do anything post 8pm though and I am hopeless). For me, the very beginning of the day should be my most precious and productive time. I need to structure my day so that I can tackle the hardest, most brain draining stuff early!
Stop trying to multi-task
We are not good at it! Well apparently, about 2.5% of the population have the ability to successfully multi-task (known as super- taskers) but for the rest of us mere mortals we just can’t do it. Not when it comes to high value tasks that require more than auto-pilot anyway. Now I could argue that I am a master multi-tasker when it comes to cooking dinner whilst bathing kids, packing school bags, and refereeing fights. That I can do, but when it comes to producing high quality work, we are all best to focus on one thing at a time. The stop-start-stop-start process of constantly changing focus can cost up to 40% productivity. It really is best to have a single focus when it comes to the important stuff.
So, equipped with these strategies I am resolute that I am going to stop wearing ‘busy’ as a badge of honour. Instead I am going to take control of how I invest my time. Which means more time for my family, more time for me, and better outcomes in my professional life. Happy days!