|In ancient Greek mythology there is a story about a king tortured by a never-ending task. As punishment for his earthly crimes, King Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. But before he could ever reach the top of the hill, the boulder would always roll back down forcing him to start again. Today, the term ‘Sisyphean’ is often used to describe endless, unavailing work or to-do lists that go on for miles with items that rarely get crossed off. We’ve all fallen victim to the Sisyphean task list at one point or another: The day begins with energy and focus and maybe a sticky note that outlines priorities for the day. It doesn’t take long, however, for urgent requests from coworkers, supervisors and clients by phone, e-mail or text message to hijack these lists and our time.|
There’s no denying the irony of the fact that the very technologies created to make life and business easier have actually made it much more difficult for many of us to manage our time and focus on accomplishing work. Instead of helping us work, these technologies often distract us from it.
According to a recent study, 60 percent of employees said technology increases productivity, yet 35 percent said it also increases distractions throughout the work day. And those distractions? They cost U.S. businesses an estimated $650 billion per year.
Time is a finite resource. There is a limited amount of workable hours in each day and time cannot be made up. To add another obstacle to the equation of time, we are forced to balance these workable hours with liveable hours—hours spent with friends, family or alone, hours that ultimately make work worth the effort and the time. In order to protect this time, businesses and professionals need to actively guard against the Sisyphean trap—we must practice effective time management.
For an in-depth look at how to avoid this trap, check out our Blue Paper®, Time Management. In the mean time, here are the top tips and tricks for better managing your time:
- Learn to say “no”
Accepting new tasks, making promises that can’t always be kept and opening up to distraction from top priorities are sure ways to be set up for time management failure. Saying “no” is sometimes difficult, but often necessary. Learn to ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?”
- Under commit and over deliver
While most people tend to do the opposite, experts say that this is the key to effective time management. This one skill alone can reduce tremendous amounts of stress in your life and significantly strengthen your relationships.
- Build gaps into your schedule
In other words, prepare for the unexpected. By setting aside an hour or two a day for work that takes longer than expected, last minute meetings or unavoidable interruptions, you’re more likely to stay on top of the day’s to-do list. What’s more, if you don’t end up needing this time you’ve built an extra hour into your day to get a head start on tomorrow—or to spend as you wish.
- Get organized
Documentation is one thing. Documentation retrieval is another. Establish a place for everything, and then put everything in its place. You lose, on average, an hour a day looking for things. If you want more time, spend less of it looking for what you need. The Desktop Memo and Flag Station is perfect for keeping your workspace neat while offering a means of organizing files and papers, and the Pen Cup Clock will keep pens handy and time on the mind.
- Become motivated
Use your goals—personal and professional—to become motivated to better manage your time. Then work to further develop motivation by staying positive; when you’re in a good mood, you get more done. Keep mementos of your goals nearby. Print them and frame them or find a symbol like a goal post.
- Become computer efficient
Take typing classes, spend some time at the library learning how to efficiently research using the Internet, stay abreast of new tools and apps that can help to save or manage time, know how to turn off e-mail notifiers or disable wi-fi and more. Use timers to limit time spent online or move all working documents for the day to a USB drive and work from that alone.
Don’t fall into the Sisyphean trap—get a hold of your time management today and encourage your team to do the same. It’s sure to boost productivity and reduce stress, making the work environment better for everyone.