Time management in simple terms is the ability to use time effectively and productively. This is one of the most sought-after skills by business professionals as they are asked to do more, faster, better, and with fewer resources. Now, with more people working in a virtual environment, production levels have gone down for many organizations. Employees may even be putting in more hours but having a harder time meeting project deadlines. Other people’s unexpected delays and a never-ending to-do list are some of the obvious factors contributing to missed deadlines, but is there something else you should be looking for in the virtual environment? Yes, we should look for the “time robbers.”
Time robbers steal small moments here and there. They seem harmless and insignificant and can go unnoticed as a deterrent to productivity if you are not looking for them. These time robbers can be either externally imposed or self-generated. Externally imposed time robbers are often driven by the organizational culture or processes and usually are out of your control. Here are some of the most common externally imposed time robbers:
- Responding to crises
- Scope creep
- Poor communications
- Unexpected delays
- Other people’s deadlines
- Phone interruptions
- Virtual / Face-to-face meetings
- Mistakes of others
- Unexpected interruptions
- Customer complaints
Self-generated time robbers are often driven by you and are usually in your control. Here are some of the most common self-generated time robbers:
- Social visiting (virtual employees may be spending time with spouse, kids, or pets. Employees working in the office face people “dropping in” their office)
- Unrealistic time estimation to do a job
- Lack of organization
- Failure to listen
- Trying to do too much / inability to say “no.”
- Snap decisions that backfire
- Lack of planning
- Not keeping a daily priority list.
- No system of self-accountability
You may have many more external or self-generated time robbers that you encounter in your work environment. The first step to managing your time better is to take an inventory of your time robbers. Create a list of every time robber you encounter. Once you have done this, narrow the list to the ones you can put a process in place to mitigate the effect it is having on your time. These processes could be as simple as setting yourself up in a room where you can lock your door if you are working at home. Or, creating a daily priority list so you know where to focus your time.
Your ability to use time effectively and productively is going to be driven by your commitment to follow through on the strategies you develop to overcome your time robbers. Create an accountability partner if you do not have someone to hold you accountable to using your time management strategies. When you do this, you will find many of those small moments you get back here, and there will add up to large amounts of time.
Interested in learning more, join us for a complimentary 1-hour webinar, Time Management in a Virtual World, on November 11, 2020, at 9:00 AM.