Time Management in the Digital AgeMulti-tasking

  • Your brain can’t process two totally dissimilar streams of information at once. You can’t remember them both short-term, let alone long-term.
  • Every time your brain switches from one task to another, it requires time to adjust. Fewer switches mean less time wasted.
  • When safety or productivity are at stake, it is important to focus on one task at a time.
  • This is especially difficult in today’s world, where social networks, email and phones are constantly vying for our attention.

Work-life balance

  • Fast communication has fostered expectations that every email will be answered immediately and every ringing phone needs to be answered. Besides cutting into productivity during work hours, this can disrupt your leisure and family time as well.
  • Working all hours of the day causes exhaustion and less productivity at work as well.
  • Better management of work hours and a clear plan for separating work and play/other responsibilities will ultimately help you get more work done.

Task management

  • In gmail, use Google Calendar widget to combine your scheduling and your emails in one place.
  • Producteev integrates with Google Calendar and can be used alone to manage tasks. You can send an email with a task and it adds it to the system. There are other free products out there as well, such as Basecamp and Asana. Appstorm has a list of top 10 task management apps with a chart comparing features.
  • To-do list on pen and paper is sometimes the easiest solution – assuming you don’t lose it.

Email

  • Not all e-mails need to be read first thing in the morning. Read necessary ones first and leave the rest for time of day when it’s hardest for you to work.
  • Read group messages on web or in daily digest
  • Send newsletters directly to folders, to be looked at during designated time (whether work-related or personal). Unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters.
  • Google alerts – save time searching the web. Can also be sent to a folder to be looked at during designated time.

Facebook

  • Personal social media browsing – start work early, spend some time catching up and then close it down if not needed for work. If you work alone, and are able to do keep it under control, can use SM as a replacement for the “water cooler.”
  • Shut off all email notifications. Account settings – notifications – email. Each group needs notifications shut off for it specifically (from group page). Or send notifications to a non-work email.
  • When using FB for work it’s hard to ignore personal stuff. Try to keep it to a minimum – don’t get involved in big controversial debates. Can be closed when not in use.
  • When commenting or liking a post likely to have a lot of comments (from someone very popular, announcement of a simcha, very controversial) use option to unfollow post (in arrow at right of every post). You won’t receive notifications but can still go directly to the post to see the comments in your free time.
  • Periodically go through groups and pages to delete ones you are no longer interested in. Can also weed out friends that are uninteresting or annoying.
  • Instead of posting when you think certain people are likely to see your post, tag them in it so they will definitely see it.

Twitter

  • Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for scheduling. Can be useful for work, but also for personal if you want people to see something at a later time. Hootsuite will schedule FB pages as well. Can also post simultaneously to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Shut off twitter email notifications as well. Settings – email notifications.
  • Close/ignore twitter when working on something complex.
  • During work time, it IS worth getting involved in big controversial conversations for a Twitter account. Create engagement and don’t let momentum fizzle.

Mobile

  • Set notifications on various apps to vibrate or totally silent so they are more easily ignored.
  • When engrossed in family activities, leave phone out of reach. You will hear it if it rings, but you can focus on the activity at hand.
  • Sync your Google Calendar with your phone for easy task management and appointment tracking.
  • If you need to check email/social media outside of regular work hours, designate a specific time for it.

Flexible Work Schedule and Freelancing

  • Work when you are most productive. For most people, this is morning to early afternoon.
  • Where possible, schedule meetings for the afternoon. You can use the morning for work which requires more brainpower and conduct meetings during less productive hours. Exceptions are meetings which require alertness, creativity and brainstorming.
  • Create deadlines for tasks that don’t have them. This will prevent projects from dragging on endlessly. Creating a deadline for a task you don’t enjoy can stop you from procrastinating.
  • Use electronic timesheets to keep track of hours worked. Harvest Online is an example of an online app that will calculate time for you. You just need to press a button when you start work on a project, and press another one when you finish.
  • If you prefer to use an Excel spreadsheet for time tracking, it should be configured to add up hours as you enter them. This helps you keep track of how much you have done and how much still needs to be done.
  • Keep track of hours even if you are being paid a flat fee, so you can determine whether you are being properly compensated for your work. If you are spending a lot of time on projects which aren’t lucrative, cut back on them in favor of other projects.
  • Electronic billing saves time. No more trips to the mailbox or handwriting invoices. Make sure you use one approved by the Israeli government, such as icount.
  • Delegate responsibility. Have someone else do tasks which don’t require your expertise and don’t micromanage them, otherwise the advantage is lost.


Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clock_01_-_Bad_Fallingbostel.jpg

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