“The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.”
If you keep thinking of utilizing the time in a day optimally, then you could consider adding tasks to your to-do list as a starting point. However, the mere pursuit of a greater number of activities in a day may result in your poor performance in one or all of them.
Too many things to do will mean your focus getting distracted with only a few of the tasks in the bucket list getting accomplished. Persistent and prolonged interruptions coupled with multitasking can lead to major goals being pushed out of sight and an overall increase in stress levels.
The two key steps that can help you manage your time better are mentioned below:
- Freeing up some of your time as buffer to handle interruptions in work
- Undertaking efforts to and accomplishing multitasking
Make some of your time available to avoid Interruptions during work:
Are you interrupted frequently at work because of the nature of the role that you are responsible for?
The thing about work is that it is always accompanied by one or the other distraction or interruption. However, there is always the possibility of reducing the number of times you may be interrupted at work. Once this is done, it is prudent to gauge the effectiveness of the aforementioned exercise and change it at least five more times until it works for you.
Once you have chosen your target, think on how interruptions can be reduced. Here are a few suggestions to do so:
- Create an ‘Unavailable from 8:30 a.m – 10:30 a.m.’ auto response email. The timings can be chosen based on the duration feasible for you
- Silence the phone
- Try to only use email pop-ups that summarize emails. Better still, turn off pop-ups altogether
- Try to relocate to a different location (e.g., cafeteria, library, park, unused office) during your ‘unavailable’ duration
- Inform colleagues of your peak time and request them to avoid disturbing you during that period. Ask them about their preferred time, and provide a mutually convenient time
- Consider putting up a ‘Don’t disturb until 10:30 a.m.’ sign on your desk. When you see an interruption coming, point to the sign. People may notice the sign and can come back again
- Shift your work hours by an hour on a few days each week to be able to work at home, or work in the office when it is quiet
- If you can, change the layout of your desk so that you’re not facing visitors. Otherwise, you encourage eye contact with visitors and interruptions
Multitasking can be improved by:
- Choosing only a few tasks at a time for multitasking
- Grouping similar tasks together, for example, calls, errands, tasks within a project, and then multitasking between the groups
- Recording just enough information that describes where you left the previous task so that the transition time is reduced
Remember the key conclusions while you work to achieve the highest level of multitasking:
- If you find that multitasking does not suit you, recognize so at the earliest and go to your sequential way of working on tasks
- Do not try to handle more than your capacity. Multitasking may look impressive, but the output may not be great. Ensure the end result of tasks being handled comes out well
- Reduce the transition time by recording your current situation. For example, jot notes in the file you are using describing where you are
- Try scheduling a few large items per day (based on your peak time), and multitask between those. Leave a gap for other things that arrive at your desk, otherwise they will distract you. If you can simply get your tasks completed quickly (in any order), it will look like you are multitasking and have achieved the goal