Bethanne Kronick, Owner of SIMPLIFY!

Like an open window in July can suck the air-conditioned air out of your home, time leaks in our routines can sabotage productivity efforts at work. Here are a few common ones and some strategies to replace them with positive alternatives.

Time Leak #1 – Social Media & the Internet. The internet is a wonderful glorious thing. Like mint chocolate chip ice cream on a warm day. But we all know, too much of a good thing and suddenly, it can become very bad for us. Excessive time online can keep us from important projects. If you struggle in this area, try setting some boundaries by limiting yourself to checking social media no more than three times per day or use a timer to keep track of online time. Check email on a regular schedule depending on your role and responsibilities but try not to “live” in your inbox.

Struggling with your will power to truly unplug? Try the program Freedom that allows you to disconnect from the internet for set periods of time. While you’re offline, use a capture medium (note cards or list apps that can run offline) to keep track of tasks you need to complete online when your “unplugged” time is finished.

Time Leak #2 – Multitasking. Once celebrated as a necessary skill, modern science has demonstrated that our accuracy and efficiency truly suffer when we try to multitask. The same two projects that would have taken 30 minutes had we done them one at a time, might end up taking up to twice as long when we are trying to do them simultaneously. Add up those minutes over the span of a month and you can lose a significant amount of time if you don’t address this leak. Take intentional steps to work on one project at a time. Clear your calendar and physical work space at scheduled times to work on specific projects. Work to focus only on that task and keep other distractions from interrupting your time. If you have to change to another task or project, make a quick note of where you have left off in the first task so you can reduce the amount of time it takes to jump back in.

Time Leak #3 – Interruptions. Many of us work in busy environments and a significant challenge can be the interruptions from co-workers, clients and vendors who need attention (either in person, on the phone or through email). Use strategies like turning off your email notifiers, shutting your door, forwarding calls to voicemail, and blocking your schedule for some focus time (time reserved for high value projects), to ensure you can plug the time leaks that come from working in a busy environment. If you work solo or in a home office environment, the interruptions may take a different form (phone calls, requests from family, household chores, etc.). The concepts are the same, work to create a space and an environment that will limit the interruptions that will slow your work flow.

Time Leak #4 – Poor Planning. Not having a plan for the day means you’ll likely spend more time reacting and less time being intentional about where you are investing your time. Suddenly, it’s the end of the day and you wonder where it went! Invest a few minutes at the end of each day creating a plan for the next day. What are the three “must do” activities or projects that are the highest priority for your attention? Place the list (digital or paper) where you will see it first thing the next day. Commit to getting these items done before starting new tasks or adding more to the list.

Time Leak #5 – Extended Socializing at Work. People are important and building relationships with your co-workers and clients is an important investment in your professional and personal development. However, the time we spend catching up on our favorite reality TV shows, or chatting about your latest meal at the food cart emporium can really add up. Watch out for time leaks in some of your extended, non-work related conversations. Instead, consider taking a walk with a co-worker at lunch or meeting at the gym after work to catch up so you can focus on work projects during work hours. If you work solo or from home, don’t ignore time with your friends and family, but make sure the connections are happening during off-hours and not seeping into the hours you need to be working (ultimately keeping you away from friends and family because you need more time to finish projects).

At SIMPLIFY! We believe time is the most precious resource anyone can have. None of us really wants to have time leaks in our lives where that resource is gone and never to be recovered. There are too many great experiences to have (both personal and professional) to waste a single moment! We are passionate about helping our clients get more done, in less time, with less stress so they can purse their passions. Through our trainings, workshops, webinars and individualized coaching, we focus on practical strategies for maximizing daily efforts in simple tasks and providing strategies for success on high-value projects. We would welcome the chance to be a resource if you are looking for strategies to improve productivity and life/work balance for you and your team.

Bethanne Kronick is a nationally known speaker, author and productivity strategist passionate about bringing productivity, balance and wellness to people at work and in life. When she is not working with her clients, Bethanne is a world record holder and Master’s National Champion rower and loves to eat ice cream! Learn more about Bethanne and her company, SIMPLIFY!, at www.simplifynw.com.