In IT or any corporate department, you always hear “There is never enough time”. Well, what if there is…
Much of what we do in a day is unconscious. Many of our work habits are on autopilot. Several studies link meditation to effective time management for the simple reason: a daily practice of meditation can boost attention, sharpen focus, enhance flow, improve creativity and prevent procrastination.
But Mindfulness becomes powerful when we take it from the cushion (or the chair) and bring it into the everyday. Here are 3 ways to mindful(ly) improve how you work, and find more time…
Your Energy Patterns
When you understand how you work best from an energy point of view, your day expands. It can seem as if you have more hours in your day. Yes, I realize how crazy that sounds, but it is true: you can bend time…
So think about an average day, when are you happy? low energy? high energy? clear-minded? When do you NEED coffee?
All these questions will help you chart your day. Studies show that the productive times are 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. But this is just a general statement, you are an individual, and your productive day chart needs to be determined by you.
If you can’t decide, create a productivity journal. For one week, take note of your personal energy patterns. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple stickie note next to your computer will work.
Energy Patterns & Work
I know myself quite well. My brain has limited availability before 10:00 am. From 10:00 am until 3:00 pm it is on full-steam. 3:00 pm until 4:00 pm it’s slowing down. At 4:00 pm it wants to curl up on the couch. Around 5 or 6 pm, it gets a second wind and loves to read or research.
That’s me. Do not come into my office at 8:00 am or 3:30 pm and expect me to solve world problems. It just won’t happen. And it can’t be forced. We force ourselves too much. We hustle, rush around and push and force ourselves. It doesn’t work, and it’s time we realize this. Go with the flow. Plan your work day and what you need to do based on your energy patterns.
You will be much more efficient and you will complete your tasks faster.
Respond to interruptions, and it will take full 15 minutes to get your head back into your work. Think about it. How many times a day does this happen to you? No wonder you are so behind.
Yes, you need to answer your colleagues’ questions, and people pop into your office. But if you stop yourself from creating your own interruptions you will be ahead in the game. Reduce interruptions with these 2 quick strategies:
Batch your emails
Choose 2 times a day to respond to your emails, texts, and voicemails, and be strict about it. I pick 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. This is my low energy time. I will not waste my most productive, creative time (10:00 am – 2:30 pm) on minor tasks like email.
Pick the times that work best for you. Inform your team that you batch your emails. As a consultant, I always inform my clients and team. I have never received any negative feedback; neither will you, so don’t use that as an excuse. The most important thing is that you set specific times to respond and stick with it.
Turn off Notifications
Don’t forget to turn off the email notification reminder in Outlook. When you are writing, working or coding, that silly little popup or ping is distracting. You don’t need to know when a new email arrives cause you batch those babies!
I can already hear you object to this one. This is most likely the hacks you will be most resistant to because we LIKE answering emails, texts, and phone calls. Every time we get a notification it feeds our brains’ reward center when we check it, which is why so many of us are addicted to our phones in the first place. Before you say no outright, give it a shot. You will gain so much more time out of your day!
Don’t think this matters? How many times in the day do you create your own distractions by checking email or your phone? Times that by 15 minutes. How much time have you re-discovered?
The fewer interruptions you have, the more focused you will be. You will gain more time in your day, and get more done.
More time for real work = less stress. You can leave work early cause you got everything done!
Can you multitask?
This has to be the most asked question when I interview at client sites. Trying to do too many things at once results in a lot of things on the go, but not completed.
Do NOT multitask. I repeat, do NOT multitask! Multitasking is a myth.
Studies prove our brains can’t multitask. Eating lunch, sending emails, and Facebook chatting seems possible, but your brain doesn’t focus on all these activities at the same time. Instead, multitasking splits the brain. It creates something researchers call “spotlights”. So all your brain is doing is trying to frantically switch between the activities.
Decide what you are going to focus on and then mindfully do that ONE thing during that time. If you are doing research, you are not also checking out Facebook, answering emails, or eating lunch. Choose one thing and stick with it. When your attention is focused you get more done in less time.
Mindful efficiency beats multitasking any day.
Are you ready to take back your day and implement one or all of these mindful techniques?