We tend to think of time as a limited resource. We say things like, “there are only so many hours in the day” and “I’m already working 24/7.” But what would it feel like to think of time as something flexible that we can build and expand?
Consider the difference between activities that are time wasters and those that are time builders. Time wasters are things that happen throughout your day that take precious time away from your priorities. Time wasters include technology disruptions like instant messages or Facebook, drop in visitors, telephone interruptions, unproductive meetings, meetings that go over their allotted time, multi-tasking, putting things off until you “feel inspired,” and all types of procrastination.
By contrast, time builders are strategies, habits, and activities that you purposefully integrate into your life to manage time and focus your attention. Time builders include making to do lists at the beginning of the day with your priorities in mind, designating 60 to 90 minute blocks on your calendar for uninterrupted productive time, organizing your desk so that you can easily find what you need, setting reminders in your Outlook calendar, and doing your most challenging work at the time of day when you feel most awake.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that time wasters and time builders are different for each person. If you are a social media strategist, spending time on Facebook may be a time builder for you. The point is: discover and reduce time wasters in your life while also identifying and cultivating time building habits.
If you completed the How Did You Spend Your Time? worksheet, now is a great time to revisit it with the idea of time wasters and time builders in mind. A technique I suggest to my coaching clients is to literally X out items from your worksheet that were time wasters. This will help you visualize how often they occur in an average week. Next, put a circle around time builders to show yourself times in the week when you were able to organize yourself to build time for what you love.
Check the Foresight Blog in the next couple of weeks for the final entry in the De-Clutter Your Career series which will provide strategies to keep your career de-cluttered going forward.