Is time management a waste of time?

Are you struggling with time management for yourself and your team?  Feeling overwhelmed by the ‘To Do’ list?  You are not alone.  So perhaps it’s time for a different approach?

One of the most common complaints I hear from managers is how busy they are and how much work they’ve got to do.  Have we become afflicted by “death by to-do lists?”  While we enjoy the advantages of technology, there has never been a time when we were so overwhelmed with social media and the expectation of instant communication.  E-mails, text messages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the list goes on…

No doubt you’ve read a book about time management, attended a training session and used some sort of system to try to list, organize and prioritize all the things that you and the team have to do.  Yet, somehow you probably feel like you still can’t get everything done.  Perhaps time management is a waste of time?

So I wonder, should we be managing our time?  Or is it better to think about how we manage our attention?  Managing our attention allows us to work at our most productive.  In doing so, we can achieve what matters the most.  In turn, we can end each day knowing that we’ve done our best and made the most of the time that we have available.

5 Top Tips for ‘Attention Management’:

  1. Be Clear
    What are the most important tasks for the day?  Get everybody in the team to begin each day by getting clear on this.  Write it down, use it as a screen saver, whatever works best.  Make sure that you keep checking back to this across the day.
  2. Stay Focused 
    Now everyone knows what they need to do.  Help them keep focused on this list during the day.  Time block tasks, turn off the phone, don’t get distracted by the constant emails, etc (unless it’s their key job to do these things of course).
  3. Manage Alertness
    Teach the team how to monitor their alertness.   Do they need to increase or decrease their alertness?  Working in the zone of optimal attention enables everyone to work productively.
  4. Take Regular Breaks 
    Regular breaks help everyone to stay focused, a bit of movement thrown in there also helps to manage alertness.
  5. Manage your working environment  
    Where do you and your team do the best work?  In silence?  With music?  Office too hot or too cold?  Make sure you think about the environment and how this impacts on everyone’s work.

By Tania Barney, a registered Occupational Therapist with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), UK.
Professional qualifications:  B App Sc (OT), M App Sc (Health Sciences), University of South Australia.

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