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Time really is money, and THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO. Time slips through our fingers as our inbox fills, and it’s difficult to grasp how some people actually manage it. It feels impossible to know how we can improve the way we manage our days, yet when we do, we are far more productive and far less stressed.
As well as reducing personal pressure, (in turn increasing engagement), UK businesses would be £750 million better off each year if only they could help employees manage their time more effectively. And, according to a Microsoft® Office survey, unclear objectives, lack of team communication and ineffective meetings are among the top time wasters and less than 60% of the working day is spent productively.
Multitasking is the enemy
As we contend with doing more in less time, working longer hours and striving to achieve a better work-life balance, our response is often to juggle our task list. Multi-tasking is pervasive in the workplace even though we KNOW it doesn’t work – researchers from the University of Michigan found productivity dropped as much as 40% when subjects tried to do two or more things at once – so why do we do it? A small study published in the Journal of Communication explains that multi-tasking enables individuals to “feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”, one unquestionable explanation for persisting with juggling tasks in the face of doing-more-in-less-time.
Analysing and prioritising tasks and projects using a model like this one to the right, (Stephen Covey’s time-management matrix, click to enlarge), can unearth some quick wins.
Distraction and self-interruption
Avoiding distraction is impossible:
- A Basex study found that 1 hours per worker per day are wasted as a result of distractions and interruptions in the workplace 
- About 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day but it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task
- Workers spend 50% of their working day checking and managing their email, although only 14% of emails are likely to be crucial to their work
- The problem is biggest for Millennials and Gen Zers, with 74 percent reporting feeling distracted.
- We’re also extremely good at self-interrupting – according to Rescue Time, we check in on social media sites 14 times per workday.
How to improve your time management skills using your Discovery® profile
This excerpt of your profile describes the most important strategies you (and others) can use to maximise your potential. Take the time to identify which items on the list stand out as current and significant needs, build a plan around implementing strategies to combat them more often, and start working more effectively.
- Revisiting your colour energy make-up
It’s important to remember that interferences aren’t always as obviously physical as a colleague asking a question. Do some homework, read back over your ‘Possible Weaknesses’ with fresh eyes – try to view each point through the lens of ‘how could this cost me time?’, and use this knowledge to plan your day more effectively, e.g.:
- ‘De-motivated by routine tasks’. If I find this hard work, it’s likely I’ll procrastinate or self-interrupt and I won’t be working to the best of my abilities. I should (where possible) assign myself the first hour of the day to get it out of the way.
- ‘Was once indecisive, but he is not so sure now!’ Umming and ahhing too much and worrying about outcomes can deflate me. Maybe I should discuss options with others rather than sitting on decisions for too long and losing confidence.
- Learn more about your time and life management
Add the Personal Achievement chapter to your Insights Discovery profile. You can see a sample starting on page 32 of the full profile here. The chapter explores how an individual can grow and improve in different areas of personal achievement and includes the sections Living on Purpose, Life & Time Management, Personal Creativity, Life Long Learning & Learning Style. It’s practical application spans far and wide:
- One to One Coaching
- Graduate Programmes
- Talent Management
- Work/Life Balance
- Goal Alignment
- Career Management
- Creativity Programmes
- Out Placement
- Time management
“Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.”
 Basex Study (Sept 2005) – The Cost of Not Paying Attention by Jonathan B Spira and Joshua B Feintuch. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/467443/bpe_2015_statistical_release.pdf