Are You Stuck in the Time Suck?

If you are reading this from your work computer, I would be willing to bet that you have more than five windows open at any given time. If you’re anything like my boss, you might have twelve. Sure, we all like to think that we can do five things at once, but, as the minutes tick by; our overall productivity seems to tell us otherwise. This is what some would refer to as the time suck. Research has shown that multi-tasking can make a person less productive and in the end, experience more stress. Time management, in my humble opinion, is always something that can be improved upon and is a beast that can never fully be tamed. As I have been working here, I have learned from my fellow employees and even taught myself a thing or two.

  1. Pick up the phone. Our generation has gotten away from verbal communication and we rely on email and text as our primary form of communication. But this is definitely not the most efficient form and can lead to countless hours of emailing back-and-forth when a five minute phone call could cover it.
  2. Put down the phone. The cell phone that is. We communications professionals all have our own social media vices, but we can’t get our love of interacting with each other get in the way of our job. I check in several times a day on Twitter, and some would argue that isn’t enough. For the sake of this post, let’s just agree that this requires a delicate balancing act.
  3. Turn down digital distractions. If you hear the “ping” of a new message, curiosity will always get the best of you. First it’s an email, than an innocent click of a link and now you are consumed by the message. Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford said “We’ve got a large and growing group of people who think the slightest hint that something interesting might be going on is like catnip. They can’t ignore it.”
  4. Time blocking. This is the battle that occurs between what your brain wants to do and what it should do. Your brain wants to work on more than one thing at a time and when you get the urge to do so, you should make a list of everything that needs to get done for the day, then block off the appropriate amount of time to do so. Commit to yourself and say, “I will only work on this for one hour”. If that time passes without any result, than you can choose to table it or soldier on.
  5. Set up personal office hours. We constantly are involved with other people’s projects, but it’s hard not to be since we work so closely with them. If you are under a deadline, your co-worker’s projects should be the last thing on your mind. So if one of them does ask for your advice, politely tell them that it will have to wait or direct them to somebody that may be able to assist them. Even better, they may use that rejection as motivation to find the answer on their own.
  6. Zone out. Let’s face it. We aren’t machines and we clearly can’t stay 100 percent focused all the time; we would all be cantankerous, miserable drones. Most of us get our release around lunchtime, but if that isn’t enough, take a couple minutes and do something that makes you happy. Call a friend, laugh, have a dance party, really anything that will get your mojo back.
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