It's only 60 minutes, but that's where it all starts. This weekend, you'll lose one hour as time springs forward. But somehow, that single hour can feel like it sets you back much further. And when it snowballs out of control, you'll look back and wonder how it all went so wrong.
That makes this a great time to explore strategies to use your time more efficiently. Whether Daylight Savings Time is on the horizon, or you're running up against a deadline, it's important to remember how to get the most out of every hour you have.
Here are tips on taking one single hour and making the absolute most out of it:
- Use an egg timer
This is a recent discovery I've made, and it's changed the way I communicate. I have sand timers for 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes. The amount of time it takes to complete a task is, all too often, the amount of time you're given to complete it. Instead, I'll challenge myself to get a job done in less time by racing the timer. I use them in meetings to keep everyone on schedule. If I'm trying to express an idea, I use a timer to force myself to get at the core of the issue. These simple devices have become invaluable.
- Have a desired outcome for each task
Sometimes when you've been doing something for a long time, you can get stuck in auto pilot. You start to do things because you've always done them, and always done them a certain way. Instead, take stock of exactly what you plan to do in the next hour. Ask yourself why you're doing each task. What does each one help you accomplish? If you're not sure why you're doing it...then why are you doing it? Don't do things just for the sake of doing them. Also look for efficiencies you may have missed before.
- Clear all your distractions - and excuses
Before you begin your hour, put yourself in a position to succeed. Turn your phone on silent, turn off the podcast you're listening to in the background, and clear your workspace. Go to the bathroom! Get yourself some water- with a lid - to keep on your desk. Maybe a snack too. Sit in your favorite chair, and make sure the temperature is appropriate. When you're comfortable in your space and in your bodily functions, you don't have to spend so much energy ignoring those distractions. For me, my best workspace is me, my computer, and my poodle, but do whatever works for you.
- Set other people's expectations
One of the biggest challenges faced by leaders is taking care of all their responsibilities while also making sure their team's needs are met. Being a boss is being constantly interrupted. But you need to draw the line somewhere. Set aside one hour a day just for powering through key items. Tell your family and your colleagues that your phone will be on silent, your office door will be closed, and you are off limits. You'll find people respect boundaries more when they know exactly what to expect and when it ends. They may even figure out the problem themselves!
- Build in reward
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Don't become a slave to your work. It makes you cranky and kills morale. When you complete your hour, mark your success. Take a break for a healthy snack, or go on a quick tour of the office to say hi to your colleagues. It'll be both a treat and a productive use of time.