Entrepreneurs and real estate agents should use these helpful tips to help manage time, tasks, and energy throughout the work day and work week.
1. Evaluate Your Current Schedule
Create an inventory of how much time you spend on the phone, meeting with prospects, dealing with current clients, etc. By adding a log to your calendar, you can easily track how your time is spent.
2. Eliminate "Time Wasters"
Identify nonessential activities you can cut out or delegate to someone else.
3. Block Your Time
Use time-blocking to first include things you know you have to do each week. This might be time for exercise, a weekly meeting, etc.
4. Prioritize Activities
Categorize your activities according to their level of importance. What must be done each day? Week? Month?
5. Leave Room for Emergencies
Don't schedule yourself too restrictively. Leave a few 10- or 15-minute blocks throughout the day to deal with unforeseen emergencies or take a break.
6. Schedule Time Each Day to Return Phone Calls and Emails
Take the appropriate step the first time you receive a message, either to address it immediately, file it for later action, or delete it.
7. Be Mindful of Daily "Slump" Times
Schedule difficult or detail- oriented tasks in the morning, when most people are highly focused. Late morning is a good time for meetings with clients, as many people are most upbeat at this time. Schedule a few activities you enjoy in the afternoon in order to avoid a late- afternoon "slump."
8. Drain Your Brain
Get your brain back by doing the unthinkable–taking a moment, perhaps even two, to clean the slate and give your thoughts a rest.
By: Apryl Motley, CAE
Right brain to left brain: "Do we have a problem?" The response: "Indeed we do. All systems are on overload." And it's no wonder why. Most of us are constantly multitasking as we go through the day, without taking time to recharge our bodies, let alone our minds. The result is what Donna French Dunn, former executive director and CEO, BICSI, Tampa, Florida, aptly described as brain overload: "I once worked with a woman who would say, 'My head is too full.' I used to laugh. Now I know what she means. We're really busy. We have great things happening. We have the usual amount of personnel and goofy building issues. My board is learning and struggling with change. I got on the plane on Wednesday, looking forward to my usual quiet time to let the brain settle and unravel the tangled thoughts in my brain, and it just wouldn't happen. I'm on brain overload. What do you do when you have brain overload? How do you recover the thinking space in a brain that is too full?"
The New York City-based Families and Work Institute's 2005 study Overwork in America indicates that one in three employees is chronically overworked. According to the organization's president, Ellen Galinsky, "Ironically, the very same skills that are essential to survival and success in this fast-paced global economy, such as multitasking, have also become the triggers for feeling overworked."
It's easy to equate "busy" with "good": Your association is successful; your services are in demand. And we try to overcome that busyness through good old-fashioned hard work. But just when we've gotten used to doing five things at once, research shows that multitasking is actually counterproductive and detrimental to our well-being.
In July 2006, psychologists at the University of California-Los Angeles reported that multitasking adversely affects how we learn. According to UCLA Associate Professor of Psychology Russell Poldrack, "Even if you learn while multitasking, that learning is less flexible and more specialized, so you cannot retrieve information as easily." An earlier study conducted by researchers Joshua Rubinstein, David Meyer, and Jeffrey Evans demonstrated that multitasking may actually reduce productivity.
Whether or not you're familiar with the research, many of you have felt the impact of these trends; ASAE & The Center's Executive Management listserver was filled with responses to Dunn's questions. Here's a compilation of the advice that your peers offered her as well as additional suggestions from organization and time-management expert Julie Morgenstern and quality-of-life coach and facilitator Burt Woolf. Read on and learn how to overcome overload.
9. Reorganize Yourself
"I find that when I have so much on my mind that it means that I need to put pen to paper and get organized. When I have things listed on a to-do list, I have less that I need to keep track of in my head. This is also helpful when I have big projects and sticky issues to deal with. By writing them down and breaking them down into smaller chunks with deadlines and points I need to consider, it helps me to focus, remember details, and think of strategies to deal with them. Also by breaking it down, you can delegate (if possible) to others to get the job done."Kristine Hillmer, CAE, Senior Vice President, Association Services, National Funeral Directors Association, Brookfield, Wisconsin
10. Escape From Your Thoughts
"I tend to read a lot of escapist literature--mystery and spy novels, whodunits, and books by Bill Maher. Especially when I'm on a long plane flight and can't sleep, these books really help to take the mind off the other stuff, so it focuses on only one thing. Once the head is clear and more centered, I can go back to the problems at hand, and they seem to separate out more easily. The discrete tasks can be discerned--much like my favorite fictional detective, John Sanford's Lucas Davenport, does with his evidence."Wayne W. Carley, CAE, Executive Director, National Association of Biology Teachers, Reston, Virginia
11. Let Go
"Take the day off and don't check email. How many of you are off today, but checking email? Seriously, I feel one of the responsibilities of our position is to consciously guard against burnout. We carry our jobs with us 24/7, whether we have an office at home or not. Once I check email, my brain is back on the clock."Connie Sonnier, Executive Director, Texas Academy of General Dentistry, Round Rock, Texas
12. Get Physical
"There was a time in my life when I was very ill, very busy at work, and unable to let go of any of it. The only way I found to drain my brain of all the stress was when my husband took me fishing. Every weekend for two months straight, we woke up early and went fishing. Some days I fished, and other days I just sat there enjoying the peace and quiet. Either way it was very relaxing to be surrounded by the beauty of nature and disconnected from the rest of the world for just a couple of hours a week."Carrie D. Bright, CAE, Executive Director, American Midwifery Certification Board, Linthicum, Maryland
13. Take Time Out
"Woodland hikes have worked wonders for me. Mindful meditation, walking meditation, and visualization all help put my mind back in a restful state. Reading something that sparks my imagination or even switching between different types of work projects--I know how dull this makes me sound--is also like a splash of cold water."Sammi Soutar, CAE, President, Able Management Solutions, Columbus, Ohio
Written and Published by: VanEd