When was the last time you focused on you, at work?
How have you been growing in your role? How are you making time for professional development?
When we’re running from meeting to meeting, project to project, personal development often gets left in the dust. It’s something you have to make time for. To speed up sometimes you have to slow down.
Step 1: Pour your Time Management Tequila
Time management is personal; so much like a tequila shot, take any time management advice with a grain of salt. Find what works for you based on how you work, so you can make time for professional development.
Here are our best practices:
DESIGN YOUR DAY
Be intentional and proactive. Schedule time on your calendar to accomplish your priorities two weeks in advance.
And ask yourself these three questions as you block out the time:
- What time of the day do you have the most energy?
- When are you the most distracted or have recurring meetings?
- When will you schedule your prep time? (usually the first or last thing you do in a day).
Multitasking is a myth. It’s a learned tactic that keeps us unfocused. So buckle down, turn off your notifications, put your phone in a drawer, and block the YouTube homepage. Set the expectation with your team that you’ll be unreachable for this period of time.
Try working in 90-minute sections with intentional breaks afterward. This leverages our natural energy flow. However, the breaks you take have to be actual breaks – no scrolling on your phone in the same spot for five minutes. Get up and move locations. Maybe go for a quick walk.
END YOUR WORKDAY
Work hard, rest hard. When you end work, actually end work. Shut your laptop, change your slack status, turn off your email notifications, and communicate you’re offline. Then mentally clock out too. Here are our favorite SNPer recommendations to get out of the work mindset:
Recuperation is just as important as productivity. So respect your end of day when you can.
Step 2: Add your No Overthinking Orange Juice and shake it up
Not overthinking sounds like a tall order, but what we really mean is clear your mind. If you’re thinking about all the other tasks you have to do while working on a task, it’s going to take you that much longer.
So free up brain real estate. Bucket your to-do list in three ways: monthly, weekly, and daily. Create calendar blocks and set reminders for those tasks, so you don’t even have to think about when to do them.
Here are some topics you can use as prompts to make sure you get everything off your mind and onto the calendar:
- Leadership (vision/values, networking, decisions to share, etc.)
- Marketing (projects, advertising campaigns, target market research, etc.)
- Personnel (meetings, hiring, managerial training, etc.)
- Customers/Stakeholders (commitments, complaints, feedback, etc.)
- Products/Services (inventory, production systems and equipment, etc.)
- Administration (e-mail, CRM, IT, etc.)
- Sales (prospects, referrals, training, etc.)
- Business/Org Finances (accounting, financial reports, invoices etc.)
- Self (development, hobbies, dreams)
- Family (promises, recreation events, significant events)
- Personal Finances (budget, utilities, mortgages etc.)
Single-tasking and meditation are additional tools for finding focus so incorporate them into your routines and work style alongside your mind dumps.
Step 3: Put the SMART Goal Grenadine Syrup in your cup
Now that you’ve solidified your time management skills and found focus by clearing your mind, it’s time to set achievable goals. Once we master our day-to-day, we can start to work toward something even bigger and continue making time for our professional development.
We like our goals S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are questions to consider as you list out your goals:
- Who is involved?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Where is this happening (location)?
- When does it have to happen?
- Which requirements and constraints need to be considered?
- Why is it necessary?
- What are the benefits to accomplishing this goal?
How will I measure my progress?
Ask questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will we know when it’s accomplished?
- How will I accomplish this goal?
- What actions and resources are necessary?
The goal is neither out of reach nor so easy as to be meaningless. It speaks to the attitudes, abilities, skills, and resources necessary to reach it.
Is the goal driving me forward and in alignment with my other goals or my organization’s goals?
A relevant goal answers yes to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts / needs?
- Is this goal applicable to our current environment?
- When will this be completed?
- What progress should I have made in X amount of months?
- What can I do by the end of the week?
Without time, goals are nearly impossible to manage and more often than not fall through the cracks. A time-bound goal has a deadline and may establish a sense of urgency.
Here’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal example:
“I Want To Improve My Employee Retention”
I, as the HR department head, will work with my HR and L&D team to improve employee turnover by 15% (measurable) in 90 days (time-bound) by putting up training for the new employees to let them know what is expected of them and have a program for them to get used to the operation systems.
I will also have one-on-one meetings with employees so that I get to know what challenges they could be facing (attainable). The benefit to accomplishing this goal is increased productivity, increased employee satisfaction, and reduced costs of hiring and re-training new employees (specific).
Step 4: Pour in your spiked orange juice and top with Prioritization Pineapple Juice
Balancing your tasks is, well, a balancing act. Whether they’re goal-oriented or tied to your day-to-day work, tasks need to be prioritized. These are the principles we follow…
Importance vs. Urgency (Eisenhower’s Matrix):
Eisenhower’s Matrix helps you prioritize your tasks based on urgency and importance, separating out the less urgent and less important tasks.
- HIGH IMPORTANCE AND HIGH URGENCY: This could be turning around an ask from a customer in a short period of time or something unexpected like covering a meeting for a sick colleague.
- HIGH IMPORTANCE, LOW URGENCY: strategic thinking, coming up with a product vision, or developing relationships.
- LOW IMPORTANCE, HIGH URGENCY: Proofreading a coworker’s email, urgency activities need our attention immediately but don’t help us achieve our goals, like interruptions from others.
- LOW IMPORTANCE, HIGH URGENCY: answering certain emails, scrolling the internet
Effort vs. Impact (The Pareto Principle):
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of output comes from 20% of effort. We can apply this principle to where we spend our time using the below calculation.
HOW TO CALCULATE THE 80/20 RULE
- Using a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, give your task a number in terms of the amount of effort required to complete it.
- Using the same scale, give a number to what the positive impact of that task may be.
- Then, divide the potential impact by the potential effort which will give you a priority number.
- Task: Write a marketing presentation for the staff meeting. Effort: 5 divided by Impact: 5 = Priority 1
- Task: Call customer for referral. Effort: 1 divided by Impact: 10 = Priority 0.1
From this example, the smallest number would be your priority. So 0.1, call a customer for a referral, would be the task you’d want to prioritize based on its effort and impact.
Overall the goal with these two prioritization tactics is to spend your time strategically. Is your time and effort largely going into high urgency, high importance tasks? Should you be spending more time on the high importance, low urgency tasks? How does your effort and impact align? Are you putting time into the low effort, high impact tasks or putting them off?
Make your hard work count.
Step 5: Add ice and a cherry and sip slowly
You now have a refreshing tropical tequila sunrise. Sip slowly!
- Time management fundamentals
- Mind clearing tactics
- The S.M.A.R.T. goal framework
- And prioritization principles
High-speed doesn’t always mean high-impact. So take time to slow down and find a work rhythm that lets you make time for professional development and continue being the high-performing individual you are.