Please tell us about yourself and your business.
Life is too short to be spent working ourselves into frazzled stress balls! I teach busy professionals how to operate more efficiently so they can have a life outside of work. My clients have consulting and coaching sessions with me either in person or by phone. I present time management keynotes and workshops across the country and around the globe. I also have books and webinars for those who prefer individually paced self-study.
What are your clients’ biggest challenges?
Their stress levels are causing problems at work or at home or both. They know that they want to be more productive and organized, but they’re not sure what steps to take in order to make that happen. The common denominators amongst all of my clients is that 1) they haven’t identified quantifiable definitions of what happiness is to them; 2) they operate on auto-pilot; and 3) they don’t pause daily and weekly to map out a plan.
What are some steps people can take to improve their time management skills?
1) Identify what happiness means to you.
We spend an awful lot of time diving into projects and chasing after goals, but if we don’t have a measurable goal, how do we know how far or how close we are to achieving it? We often don’t think about what exactly it is that will make us feel satisfied or happy with where we are in life. Once we define that and quantify that, we can focus our efforts on participating in what supports our goals.
2) Be fully present.
So many people operate on auto-pilot. Have you ever shown up at a place and not remembered how you got there? Have you ever looked at the clock and wondered where the last hour or two went? That’s operating on auto-pilot. When we’re in that mode, we tend to jump at whatever lands in front of us – which is usually low-hanging fruit. Instead, if we’re fully present, we can pause and make a decision about whether or not immediately addressing whatever fire or opportunity that has landed in front of us is something that will support us reaching the goals we’ve identified.
3) Pause daily and weekly to map out a plan.
If you don’t choose what your priorities are for each day, you most likely won’t accomplish them. When you understand where your time needs to go each day and each week, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or allow distractions to move you off-course. You’ll also begin to stop overscheduling yourself because you’ll see how much time you have in your life to add new items to your schedule. You’ll be able to morph your calendar so that you’ll always have time to complete your most important priorities.
These days when people are so busy and tasks are coming at them from all directions, how can they minimize distractions and focus on the task at hand?
Turn off your computer and phone notifications. Neuroscience tells us that we can lose 60 seconds in brain restart time whenever we switch tasks. If we get an average of 100 notifications each day, we’re allowing ourselves to lose 100 minutes each day just from brain re-start time. Instead of allowing yourself to be constantly interrupted by those throughout the day, check your email and texts and social media notifications when your brain is ready to receive that information. You can decide how often that will be – every few hours or every 15 minutes. Even just 10 minutes of focused work time is more productive than constant interruptions.
What are your top scheduling tips for busy people?
In my book, The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer (New World Library), I teach the concept of 3+3. At the end of each day, schedule your top three priority tasks into your calendar for the next day. This helps you to create a more realistic to-do list. The “+3” is your bonus 3. If you finish the Top 3, you can move on to the +3 after patting yourself on the back. If, however, there is a glitch in completing those Top 3 (as often happens when you rely on other humans or technology), instead of wallowing in stress and overwhelm and shutting down, you can move onto to those +3. You may have to get things done in a different order, but at least you’ll be completing other priorities, instead of low-hanging fruit. In my book, I also teach how to schedule long-term projects so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute to finish those up.
What is your top recommendation for how people can be more effective with their time?
In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, learn how to pause when you’re asked to do something. Our instinct is to say yes to everything and promise an immediate completion because we want to please people. This is what leads to our overscheduling. Instead, pause for a moment, ask yourself how high a priority this request is, and open up your calendar to figure out when you will be able to complete this. And then schedule it on your calendar. If it’s a higher priority, you might move it onto today’s to-do list and move something previously scheduled for today to a later date. If it’s a lower priority, you can schedule it for a week or two down the road. And, yes, it is possible to do this even if it’s your boss asking you! If you learn to pause instead of jump, you will cut back tremendously on overscheduling yourself.
If your readers would like complimentary resources, including a webinar on beating procrastination and the time planning templates that I use with my clients, please visit http://www.TimeManagementRevolution.com
Name: Helene Segura, MA Ed, CPO®
Title: Time Management Fixer
Social Media: @LivingOrderSA (complete list at http://helenesegura.com/socialmedia/)
Latest book: http://www.TheInefficiencyAssassin.com