As many of us continue to work remotely to protect our colleagues, families, and loved ones, the days roll into nights, which extend into weekends, making it seem like the weeks never end. It is crucial to practice effective time management to maintain efficiency, productivity, and a positive work/life balance.
Setting routines and rituals will help, but it is also essential to have a method to focus on and set aside several periods throughout the days and weeks for activities with a sequence to stay on track. Always keeping in mind that taking over the world in a day is not possible – it is a climb, not a sprint for maximum efficiency.
Over the years, I have embraced different time management processes through reading as well as education sessions through my employers, but the one that always sticks with me (and works!) is the SMART method. This method can be applied both personally and professionally, something helpful during this time. Using the SMART way helps pull everything together to help one stay on track with goals that methodically make use of time.
Here is an overview of the SMART way:
S – SPECIFIC: Start by identifying and setting the right goals for you. State what you will do and use actionable words to define your plan and stay focused. For example, a goal may be to schedule email response times throughout the day, allocating 3-4 blocks of 30 minutes each day to develop and compose responses to address and reduce the pile-up of work in email form by concentrating during a specific timeframe.
M – MEASURABLE: Clearly define your target for an activity you want to complete and track your progress. An example, maybe you want to connect with 75 potential new customers, your goal would be to contact at least 40 per day for the next week. Block out time to do this and then measure how many you have reached and connected with daily to benchmark your goal and perhaps include a reward for your success — maybe 15 minutes of online shopping?
A – ATTAINABLE: While goal setting sets a positive tone, it can adversely become negative if you set goals that you cannot reach. Can you really stick to the goals you have set? Be realistic, so you are not setting yourself up for failure. Remember, it is a climb, not a sprint. Actually, our tech team does work in terms of sprints! While I’m in our software the Suuchi GRID daily, I set aside 30 minutes each week to review our product roadmap and go through new intuitive functionality with our product team, so I’m making the most of the time I spend in the GRID.
R – RESULTS DRIVEN: Always stay positive and do not even think about a fallback. State your goals, be realistic with your capabilities (you can achieve anything you put your mind to), and keep your eye on the prize. I have used this example in my personal life to guide my teenage children (who can be typically lazy) in preparation for collegiate sport recruiting as well as the military academy and ROTC application process. They have grueling requirements, both academically and physically, and they are only achievable by focusing on the results you DO want, not what you DON’T want. It sounds very simple, but it can be tempting to retreat from a goal.
T – TIMEBOUND: Your goals should be timebound with a practical sense of resolution. Pushing off goals you have established a timeline for will impede your success. However, you will also need to be flexible and prepared to adjust to unforeseen roadblocks. Navigating these bumps can be challenging, but using your new time management techniques will help you get back and stay on track to achieve what you need to by the deadline you have set.
Effectively managing time and prioritizing proper balance negates stress and helps prioritize family time and work better at my job, keeping me #SuuchiStrong. As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, now is the time to take control of your life both professionally and personally.