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At EDSI, we are constantly thinking about how to help our clients and colleagues increase personal effectiveness and improve their professional presence. We also work on helping leaders communicate to manage performance.  In all of those areas, one of the common themes that comes up is time management, and how to manage competing priorities, demands, and the countless distractions we are faced with every day.

Impact Performance Now

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article by Amy Gallo, the most impactful change you can make is to say no to meeting invites and check your email less often. That may sound impossible. After all, if you were invited to a meeting, you are obligated to attend, right? Maybe not. Read on to learn how you can reboot how you manage your personal and professional life.

Prioritize work over availability

Are you filtering your time effectively? If you are focused on being available more than getting work done, you probably fall into this category. Think less about people’s feelings and more about your goals and completing your work.

Communicate your plans

Let colleagues and team members know that you won’t be checking email as often and you plan to attend only meetings where your attendance is absolutely necessary. This will preserve your relationships and help others transition to your new time management priorities.

Exit the craziness

You will be surprised by how receptive others are to your new plan. If you tell them that you’ll only be checking email once or twice a day, you’ll probably find them envious more than anything. You are willing to step out of the craziness of constant distraction and multitasking in order to concentrate on productivity and effectiveness.

Make clear what you’re doing and why
Gallo says, “Once you’ve decided on a time-management approach, share your reasoning with your colleagues. For example, if you want to decline meeting invites, Saunders suggests you explain why — you’re working on another big initiative, other members of your team are already attending, you aren’t currently focused on that area, and so on. Or if you’re blocking out time on your calendar to concentrate on an important project, send an email to your colleagues explaining why you won’t be available. These sorts of techniques allow you to respect others’ needs and save you time.”

Shift peoples’ expectations of you

You may have to retrain your colleagues on how to interact with you. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, made a commitment to working for 6 uninterrupted hours per day on writing his book, until it was finished. What could you accomplish if you carved out that kind of time to accomplish your goals?  According to Gallo,  “When you change it up, make sure to tell everyone — key clients, your immediate team, your boss — how and when they can now expect to reach and hear from you.” You may find that an email autoresponder works well, to help people relearn how to interact with you. Simply let them know that you check email once every 24 hours (or whatever schedule you have created), and that if they have an emergency, they can call or text you.

Principles to Remember

Explain to others how and why you’re changing your behaviors
Propose several techniques to see which will work best for you and your coworkers
Become an evangelist for better time management on your team

Assume that you’re better at your job if you’re constantly available
Take a unilateral approach — involve others in your decisions
Try to implement a new technique during an especially busy time or when you’re not in peoples’ good graces

Now go out and hit the reset button on your time management. We are all given the same amount of time in each day. What will you do to make the most impact with the time you have?

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