How to get better at managing your time

A new study out of the University of California, Irvine, found that the typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes and five seconds. The problem is that after a disruption, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track.

We’re prone to wasting a lot of time during the day, so here are three effective ways to improve your time management skills.

Revisit your schedule: Look at your calendar and check where most of your time is going. If it’s in meetings, perhaps you should evaluate how productive each meeting really is and see if one can be eliminated. In general, you can do this with all your day’s tasks to understand where you need to be dedicating the most time.

Stop switching between tasks: When you keep switching between tasks, getting anything done becomes pretty difficult. A “flow state” is much better.  According to Headspace, psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura call flow state a feeling where, under the right conditions, you become fully immersed in whatever you are doing. To get in such a state, there are three practices that can help.

  1. Quieting internal stimuli (being too hot/cold, distracted with thoughts).
  2. Blocking external stimuli (noise, kids, texts, phone calls).
  3. Using practiced mental processes (as opposed to those that you are unfamiliar with and require additional mental load or meta-focus to complete). This third practice requires you to train your brain on required tasks in order for those tasks to become part of your muscle memory. Just like when you make a sandwich for lunch, you go on autopilot–not necessarily thinking through all of the steps to doing so. Doing a lot of simple things first can also help you more easily attain a flow state as you cruise through everyday tasks.

Hold yourself accountable: We all know how easy it is to slack when working remotely (it can also happen in the office). If you know you have a tendency to do this, it’s wise to stick to your schedule. And if you’re working from home and live with others, have them tell you if they notice you slacking off. Try to find ways to hold yourself accountable so you can get through your tasks more effectively.

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