This week, try out some terrific time-management tips from Jason Womack, the author of Your Best Just Got Better. One of the things I like best about Jason’s approach is that he focuses on the value of the 15-minute increment – so key when so many of us have schedules that have very few wide-open spaces. It’s pragmatic, but also a great reminder that every free moment is an opportunity to, as his subtitles goes, “work smarter, think bigger, make more.”
Here are Jason’s favorites strategies for making immediate improvements to your time management. They’re excerpted from his book, which I guarantee is worth finding time for.
- Start meetings on the 00:15 of each hour. Invite your colleagues to a meeting that starts at 9:15am and ends at 10:00am, or starts at 2:15pm and ends at 3:00pm. In my experience, most one-hour meetings can be handled in 45 minutes. In fact, they usually are as, often, especially later in the day, people are generally running 5 to 15 minutes late for meetings anyway. If it’s part of your corporate culture to run late, start your meetings at 9:15; because people usually get ready to leave their desks on the hour, you may be pleased to find your colleagues actually show up “on time.”
- ABR: Always Be Ready. I’m repeating this because it’s that important. Bring small chunks of work with you wherever you go. Then, while waiting for a meeting to start or for a delayed flight to depart, you’ll be able to reply to an e-mail or phone call; in other instances, you might have enough time to review materials for another meeting or project you are working on. If you’re prepared, you can also confirm appointments, draft responses, or map out a project outline.
- Gain some ground early in the day. When you get to the office or sit down at your desk each morning, begin by working on something that you can finish. After a few weeks, you’ll find that you’ve completed a lot of little things that needed to be done, and may just have a bit more time, mental space, and inspiration to tackle some bigger issues. Completion increases your energy level and sets the standard for consistent forward motion on projects at all levels of importance.
- Interrupt people less. Consider keeping a piece of paper off to the side on your desk. This way, when you think of something nonurgent that you need to tell or ask someone, write it down instead of e-mailing, calling, or talking to the person right away. Experiment with this approach; instead of interrupting someone three times per hour with one thing each time, you’ll only be contacting him or her once an hour with three items.