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How to Manage Your Time So It Pays Off in Business

Big Think Edge | July 17, 2018

Time management is a critical skill that, ideally, leads to increased productivity. However, managing time is a lot easier said than done — including ensuring that you do not overload yourself or others in the process. Organizations that consistently overload their employees contribute to workforce burnout, which can lead to health issues that cost U.S. organizations an estimated $125 to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending.

For many employees, time management means figuring out a way to manage their time by streamlining processes or delegating responsibilities to others. While these can be effective methods, we have put together a few ways employees and leaders alike can increase their productivity through improved time budgeting.

Dedicate Time to Prioritize Your Goals with Time Budgeting

One of the world’s great polymaths, Leonardo Da Vinci, was an avid believer of time management and prioritization. In his journals, Da Vinci wrote that “Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”

People who think they have productivity issues tend to have overcommitment issues because they are ineffective in making decisions about how to budget time appropriately. An article in the Harvard Business Review, cited by a Big Think Edge article, states that time is a finite resource, and that people can create a daily time budget to help them stay on track and maintain productivity without overcommitting. This time budget has three main areas of consideration:

  • Self care: Taking care of basic needs like bathing, sleeping, eating, et. cetera;
  • Internal expectations: These are things you promise yourself, such as exercising, reading, or engaging in hobbies; and
  • External expectations: These are the things that others expect of you, such as pet care, raising children, commuting, being a good employee, spouse, parent, etc.

Employees can assess how they spend their time and see how it matches up against their goals. By periodically evaluating their goals and how their time is spent, employees can determine what is or is not working, then make adjustments accordingly.

Big Think expert, professional consultant, and author Carson Tate says the “busyness epidemic” that consumes people in our 24/7 connected world makes it difficult to differentiate when to say “yes” or “no” to time requests from others (or yourself):

“Every time you say ‘yes,’ you're saying ‘no’ to something else. So the whole point is to get really clear around what you want to say ‘yes’ to and what you want to say ‘no’ to. Because every time you say ‘yes,’ you end up with a calendar that's full to overflowing. Many of the things that might be in it are really not in alignment with you and who you are. And so ‘no’ becomes a powerful tool to take back control of your time in your day.”

Limit or Eliminate Distractions During Your Set Work Time

Several factors influence a person’s ability to focus: intense emotions, psychological insecurity, and physical discomfort. Learning how to manage your attention effectively — and, as a result, your time — starts with identifying the environmental and psychological forces sabotaging your efforts, and figuring out how to best manage them.

For some, this may mean turning off your cell phone or locking it in your desk while at work. For others, it could mean closing your office door or putting on a pair of headphones to block out workplace noises and distractions to help you focus on the task at hand.

The better you can focus, the more efficient your time spent working on a task will be— making you a more productive employee or leader.

Make the Time to Live Your Personal Life

While many business leaders pride themselves on working long hours or being the first person in the office and the last to leave, there is something to be said for embracing family relationships and budgeting time at work to live your life.

Big Think expert and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SAP Bill McDermott says that successful companies are those whose leaders and employees find the right work-life balance by budgeting time. Company leaders who give their time to their families first may be inspired to achieve greater things in their professional lives:

“I truly believe the prioritization of family and business cannot be strongly stressed enough by any executive. Because the best executives are the ones that have always put family first. It also makes them much more productive in the office… It’ll show people around you that you’re a company that stands for more than just the bottom line. You stand for something that will endure the test of time.”

Big Think Edge is a global provider video-driven development solutions that deliver world-class experts and learning programs in a way that is convenient and scales with your organization. To learn more about achieving greater productivity and greater work-life balance, check out the Big Think Edge “Personal Productivity” course by clicking on the image banner below.

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