Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Time Management Skills - It's In The Little Things

I am more a firm believer than ever that if we focus on the little things that will translate into the big things.  I also believe that deciding to focus creates clarity which enhances the possibility of getting the results we really want!

So in the spirit of that, I recently launched a beta test for a coaching & training app called The 1% Edge Portable Coach.  Part of the piece of that coaching-training app will be devoted to productivity-time management.  So, if you'd like help really integrating what you're reading to get real results.  You want to download the app (it's free btw). Here is the link to access. Get App info. here

Whether you download it or not - I will on this blog - begin to share some of the weekly challenges presented on the app - many of which I'll be doing myself and would love some folks to participate with me and share you progress.
The Challenge Currently on the APP - Recapture Time
APP Icon
This is the combined 2 Week Challenge and for those reading this post I challenge you to focus on 1 thing - "do the 1."  That 1 translates into the little things. Let me know your thoughts.

This was Week 1 Challenge - I am going to add one other time recapture technique to extend the week 1 challenge into a second week with another recommended action.

Increase Your Time Awareness - Track Time with time mapping
Coaching action: Get or create a week at a glance - map out how your time is being used. Then assess areas where you could recapture time and reassign.

Our theme this week: "Recapture time and reassign!"

Additionally check out the other suggestions below!

This Week's Challenge - Recapture Time
Coaching Question: How much time can you recapture within a cycle of a week?
Choose which context (option) you'd like to use:
A. How you use email
B. Managing interruptions
Coaching Instructions:
1. Keep track, whether by hour or segments of the day
2. Focus Daily - tally daily results
3. Report progress through-out the week in the Fan Wall section
OPTION #1 - Managing Interruptions

How Skilled Are You At Managing Interruptions?

Managing Interruptions - An Essential Time Management Skill
These days our workplaces are busier and more fluid than ever and gives new meaning to the phrase "open door." It's transformed into open cube, open work space, etc.

And yet, we gotta get work done! I think many of us function more in a "sort of open door" environment...meaning in many cases "I'm available, but really not."

There is a delicate balance to effectively managing this predicament. We don't want to impede team productivity, as we try to get our own piece of the pie done.

So, an essential skill and time management tip in working productively in a group environment is to manage interruptions with tact and finesse.

Here's a few tips:
1. If there is anyplace in your work area that invites folks to sit...cover it with something personal.  People tend to not touch personal things without asking permission.  That way you can control how those sitting areas are used.  Or, you could remove it all together if need be.

2. Lead people with your body (and by the way this is one of my favorite ideas).  How?  First, stand up.  If sitting in your cube - face them, if in your office - walk around your desk and meet them in front of it.

Then, state a verbal boundary, "Hi, how can help I have just about 3 mins. right now." The key here is to state an exact number, rather than use the word "a few."

Next?...look at a time piece.  That communicates both on a conscious and subconscious level that you really mean you only have 3 minutes and you'll be monitoring the time.

And finally, continue to lead by closing the conversation. Make sure you have key phrases or statements you are ready to use with which you feel comfortable. The key is not to wait for them to stop talking.  YOU must close or end the time...indicating you meant what you said when you set the verbal boundary. 

To add fun to it, I've heard some managers use a sand timer from a game or a funky looking timer.

No matter what you use, the key is to lead the person, set boundaries, and then assertively close the conversation. 

You can do this with a decision to talk more later, starting to walk out of your work area as you are closing the conversation, or within 3 minutes you'll discover that's all the time that was really needed!

OPTION #2 - Managing Email
This is really a key 21st century skill! In managing e-mail effectively it's best to do it in short time increments.  So I recommend starting with no more than three minutes - which really is an adequate amount of time! This action helps you learn how to work with your e-mail faster...
Here is the step by step process to follow:
1.  Determine how much time you're going to do it 
2.  Tell yourself to sort quickly or sort fast.  If you don't do that you do it at the same usual pace. Telling yourself to do it faster will enable you to actually do it at a faster pace! 
3. Use temporary holding folders. I talk about this practice in my book. When processing e-mail, you really only have four decisions to make: Forward,  Take Action,  Reserve for Reference or Delete. In recognizing there are only 4, you can also make decisions quicker! This is key!
Coaching key: Making decisions quicker, processing email quicker = recapture time! Note: If you're in a leadership role, use this tip to increase the productivity of your team this week. Make it fun - put a chart on the way and see how much you can collectively recapture this week! Have you're team download the app. You can also use the app as an internal coaching resource. Reminder: Pick your option, focus daily, track progress, share progress on the Discussion Wall (or on this blog).

If effective time management is major issue for you - you may want to consider getting the book or bring a workshop to your company. Click here to learn more.

If you haven't yet got your version of Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - have it your way - Kindle - The Book - Nook Audio Book -  The Seminar

Other readings on Kindle:  
Declutter Your Life From The Inside Out
Your Life Through the Lens of Time - The Interview

Get the app - available on Android & Apple platforms