There isn't enough hours in the day. So we crowdsourced some ideas for making better use of the time we have.
by Dan Slee
We don't have enough time. None of us do. So how do we use it better?
Time. It's he unspoken thread that runs through every person's life.
Time. A lack of it is the curse of the always connected comms person, the mother with a to-do list, a father away training, a son who prioritises that one last email over a call to a faraway parent and a daughter who forgets a birthday but not the press release.
Time. Sometimes I tell people that I'd like an eight day of the week to catch-up with. They think I'm joking. I'm deadly serious.
91 per cent don't have enough time
We ran a straw poll the other week about time and how much people have. More than nine out of 10 don't have enough and only one in 10 have enough. Nobody who answered the survey have too much.
We're not remotely surprised so we put up a Google doc to collect some ideas on how to better use time.
Parcels of time
Sticky notes at the start of the day. Block out parcels of time. Stick to what’s in the parcels of time and don’t be distracted. - Dan Slee
Use your team, if you're a manager lucky enough to have staff, they will benefit career-wise from delegated tasks #sharesweeties
Plan your day
Don't open outlook as soon as you get in. Plan your day a bit first. - Martin Deller
Plan your day before you leave work, sleep on it, review when you get in and implement - Patrick Fletcher
hmmm, maybe checking emails while still in bed isn't the best idea then. You always know what's waiting for you. - @Maxim_PR.
As well as setting an Action list at the start of the day, I create a distrAction list - this is where I put all the random thoughts (usually non-work related!) which pop into my head during the working day. Instead of following the thought immediately and getting distracted from a task, I write it down so that I can remember it later and follow up during a coffee break, or at lunch. - Julianne Robertson
I always have a to do list on the go, everything's added as I go. I review each day & use Important/Urgent matrix to schedule what I do when. I also ask 'why?' a lot when requests come in. - @kellyqhicks.
Use web tools
Use pen and paper
Step away from the keyboard when planning stuff. Notebooks + pen are way better for planning out a list for things to do. Also +1 to pomodoro; I try and use it wherever possible, and you don’t even really need any apps or anything too high-tech. I switch between using an app and an egg timer, set for 25 minutes. - @dodgrile.
Do 10 minutes of big things
If you are putting off something but you know you’ve got to get it done, tell yourself you’ll make a start on it for ten minutes. Doesn’t seem like such a huge task then and chances are, once you’ve got started, you’ll carry on - @clairet18.
Email only at specific times of day
Reduce and manage emails. Have an email charter check in emails at specific times of the day. Use workflow tools instead. Manage your calendar block out productive doing or thinking time for you - @AdeCapon
Plan your day
Prioritising planning is difficult sometimes but it does pay dividends - it is too easy when you are busy to just to crack on and ‘do the do’ but having 10-15 minutes at the start and end of each day to plan really does make a difference. I can heartily recommend Graham Alcott’s book Think Productive One big learning from the book is that any objective - eg write annual report - is really lots and lots of small tasks so if you can can break it down into those individual components your big objective starts to become much more manageable. Once you start ticking these elements off, it really feels you are making positive progress. The book recommends a number of tools to help. The one I settled on was ‘Toodledo’ (tagline - back-up for brain). So for each ‘ask’ (say actions from a meeting or a request via an email) I break it down to its basic component and add each one to Toodledo and set a deadline. - @joycedalgleish.
Read a book
Use free tools
I love a “to do” list, but they can get out of hand and not help you execute the short, medium and long terms goals. David Seah’s blog about productivity is a great find and I’m currently practicing using his Emergent Task Planner but there are plenty of free tools and downloads to experiment with - @sarahkatenorman
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.
Picture credit: The Library of Congress / Flickr.