Guest post By: Mike Schultz, President, RAIN Group
With the nonstop interruptions and distractions, too many people have lost complete control of their work days. They get sucked into other people’s meetings and priorities, they take on the work of their staff, or they’re at the mercy of what their boss tells them to do and when.
If you want to be as productive as possible at work, you need to take back control of your time.
While there’s no shortage of time management tactics and tips, here are nine of the most impactful tactics I’ve found in my research and in helping clients become extremely productive.
9 Time Management Tactics
- Obsess Over TIME: If you want to control your time, you need to obsess over where you’re spending it. RAIN Group created the four categories of TIME—treasured, investment, mandatory, and empty. The idea is to minimize mandatory and empty time and maximize treasured and investment time. An easy way to remember is: Take Treasured, Increase Investment, Minimize Mandatory, and Eliminate Empty.
- Put Your Greatest Impact Activity First: What’s the one thing you could work on today that will have the greatest impact on your overall success? What should you do, that if you did it over and over, would be instrumental for obliterating your goals?We call this your Greatest Impact Activity (GIA). Identify your GIA every day and begin working on that first. Your emails, meetings, voicemails, etc. can wait a few hours. If you can consistently implement this one tactic, your productivity will soar.
- Track Your TIME: If you want to control your time, you need to first understand where you’re spending it. Keep a precise activity log for a couple of days. Then, reference the four categories of TIME outlined above to label each activity.The people who do this often discover that a lot of their day (including non-work hours) is spent in the mandatory and empty categories than they initially thought. The first step is truly understanding where you’re spending your time. Once you’ve done that, you can make changes.
- Do Less: Having a long to-do list can be overwhelming. It can also set you up for failure. To avoid this, shrink your to-do list and your priorities. If you have 37 priorities, you have none. To start, question each priority. To test each priority, say “If it’s not gung-ho, it’s no”. For your important priorities, add them to your calendar and plan out time that you’ll spend on them.
- Derail the Derailers: Interruptions are everywhere. Whether it’s co-workers, clients, prospects, meetings, water cooler conversations, requests from your boss, email, cell phones, the list goes on. If you truly want to take control of your time, you need to minimize these distractions and interruptions.To do this, you need to be able to say no. Hesitant about saying no to your boss? Worried that you won’t be perceived as a good team player? The eBook 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity offers examples and tips for how to say no to your boss, colleagues, and even customers.
- Keep a To Don’t List: We all write down what we will be working on. We should write down what we won’t be working on. It helps you focus, knowing that you’re attacking the top priorities only.Note that just because something is on the to don’t list now doesn’t mean it’ll be there forever. When there’s time to take on a new project, you can reference this list.
- Be Free from the Shackles of Alerts: This is an easy one. Turn off your alerts. Disable them on your computer, phone, email, slack, messaging, etc. Just do it!
- Signal “Do Not Disturb”: One study revealed that 50 percent of survey respondents said their performance and productivity at work was directly affected by their co-workers. When you need to focus on a project or task, let other people around you know that it’s not a good time to interrupt you. Put up a “do not disturb” sign on your cubicle wall. Close your office door. Turn on your out-of-office assistant. Turn off your phone. Put on a pair of headphones.These are just a few ways to tell people that you’re busy focusing and shouldn’t be interrupted. It’s a great way to take back control of your time and focus on the things that are important to you.
- Be Someplace Else: If you really can’t get away from all the distractions and interruptions of the workplace, go someplace else. Maybe it’s an entirely different location or you snag an empty conference room in your office. You might even be able to join a productive co-worker in their office. Work from home, a café, or even outside.If people can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you. Now you’re controlling your time.
Obsess over time, learn to say no, and play hard to get—if you can do these things by implementing these nine time management tactics, you’ll not only take back control of your day, but also achieve more at work and increase productivity.
About the author: Mike Schultz is a bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling, Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, and President of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 73 countries transform their sales results and unleash their sales potential. Follow Mike on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn