Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time Strapped? Revisit How You Spend Your Time

Like many women there are times when I feel time-strapped to fit everything in.  So I was interested to read an article on how to get an extra hour out of my day.   

There are several culprits that eat away at our time – too many face-to-face meetings when a decision could just be made without the meeting. For the perfectionist, procrastination was another time guzzler, as the strive to make something perfect stopped us starting in the first place. The article also touched on our inability to value and use free time without feeling guilty.  When you own a business, the day is never done and if you work from home, it is even harder to close that door and leave the work behind.  

Certainly in terms of meetings, I get a lot of requests for face-to-face meetings and much as I love to meet with people, I am finding it harder to do and have become stricter about with whom I meet.

One screening tool I have introduced of late is asking people to send me information in writing, so I can determine if it is worth our time getting together or whether we can just talk over the phone. I often then hear nothing and the request fades away.  That’s when I know it is not a win-win situation, but someone trying to sell me something or hook me into something I don’t want to do.

Another point that the article raises is that it is not just the meeting that eats into your schedule, but the time prior to the meeting when you don’t start anything important because you know you will have to leave it unfinished. And then there’s the time afterwards when you have to change gears and switch back to the work on hand. 

I remember years ago being on several committees with one woman who started to evaluate the use of her time.  We nicknamed her “The Terminator” as she would ask questions at the meeting like – Why are we meeting? Do we still need this committee?

And she was right.  Often we get locked into meeting or serving on a committee, because we’ve always done it, not because there is a need.  When the purpose of the meeting/committee has been achieved, maybe it is time to say “Congratulations, we’ve achieved what we set out to do.” and end it there. 

What’s the answer?  The article suggests we take an audit of our time and how we use it. By examining it more closely, we likely will find areas that we can change and curtail and more importantly, they say, reframe how we look at quality time and the value of taking a break.  

1 comment:

Annika Martins said...

I was vigorously nodding my head when you got to your comments about meetings (Go Terminator!!). We underestimate how much time is required pre and post - especially if we have to get in the car/on the subway to go to wherever we're meeting the person.

I don't deny the power of face-to-face interactions, but being selective about those meetings values our time and ensures that when we do meet in person, they're high quality conversations that send value in both directions. Excellent point, Anne!