I recently had a conversation with a colleague where we discussed some of the work-related issues surrounding Covid-19. While the issues are plentiful, we really honed in on “time” as a huge issue and how there is not an abundance these days.
See below for some of the “productivity hacks” I try to utilize on a daily basis in order to free up more time…
- Limit your meetings to 15-20 mins- Generally speaking you can determine, in a limited time frame, if more exploration is needed on any given topic. I would much rather have one or two shorter meetings that add value than one longer one that doesn’t add any. Plus, it seems people are more interested in getting down to business when the “perceived” time together is shorter.
- If you must meet in person, opt for coffee over lunch or even happy hour- There are times when a lunch meeting is necessary, like client entertainment and or celebrations, but generally coffee is quicker and much cheaper than lunch and/or happy hour.
- Turn off email notifications- I have had my email notifications turned off since the day I started my business (3+ years ago) and I will never turn them back on. What I figured out is that I check my email regularly enough to stay on top of mission critical items and do not need to be distracted every time I am emailed, especially by low-value emails…plus, I generally get a text now if something is in fact critical so am pretty well covered. I do, however have calendar notifications on as that’s a must.
- Vet any and all “networking events”- I was sold many a “snake oil” when I first started my business and wasted a lot of time and money as a result. While quite jaded now, I really vet any networking events prior to spending money, and more importantly my time. They are not created equal and it’s imperative to ensure they meet your needs prior to wasting time.
- Strive for a zero inbox before the start of the day- One thing I was very guilty of while working in corporate America was possessing a reactive mindset versus a proactive one. Now I try to truly manage my schedule, versus having my schedule manage me, and have found that starting the day with a zero inbox (or as close as I can) is quite helpful in allowing me to better control my day. Plus I workout in the morning and a zero inbox helps free up my mind.
- Make calls while walking your dog (or cat)- Obviously there are situations where this would come off as quite unprofessional and I think you can judge when those situations may be…but if making calls to some colleagues, friends, family members, etc… it’s a good way to catch up on a few items. As an aside- if I have no one to call, I listen to a podcast or just decompress with music
- When you have to meet in person, try to schedule your meetings between 930 and 300 (at least in Atlanta)- I live in Atlanta and do what I can to avoid traffic. As such, I strive to only meet people outside of rush hour as not to get caught up in traffic and further take away my time. This is not always feasible, but can really add-up if adhered to when possible.
- Pushback on 8am or 5pm start times, especially if you have kids- Similar to some of the aforementioned, this is not always feasible, but I have found that early or late meetings or calls tend to be quite disruptive to my schedule and overall time mitigation plan. Plus my kids generally require a lot of support in the early morning and late afternoon so I try to keep them free if possible.
- Schedule less calls and make more impromptu ones- While scheduled calls are important, sometimes they can create more work than necessary. I prefer impromptu calls when at all possible as they can be worked in when more convenient for me and made when the kids are occupied. It always seems the kids become needy when I have a scheduled call or am prepping for an important one.
I am by no means perfect and do not always adhere to these “rules” as there are always exceptions. Also, I do own my own business so some of the items may be a little easier for me to incorporate than those that have an employer. That said, you can employ some of these tactics from time-to-time and even a slight change may free up some time, or at least give you the illusion that you created some…
Beau Billington is the founder of the Free Agent, a consulting company immersed in the strategic-layer of the Gig Economy