A few months ago, I decided to review my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions to see if I had accomplished all of my goals. At the time, I had completed approximately three quarters of what I had set out to do for the year. However, when I reflected on the areas where I fell short, my excuses (notice, I purposely used the word “excuses”) had to do with “time.”
Here’s what I heard myself saying as I went through some of my resolutions:
- “I didn’t have enough time to do this.”
- “I shouldn’t have wasted time doing that.”
- “I wish I had focused more time here.”
In 2014, I also frequently found myself saying:
To our kids … “You’ll have plenty of time to do that,” or “All we have is time.”
To my students when they didn’t get the grade they wanted on the midterm, “Don’t let this single point in time define you.”
I’ve also heard myself saying to my colleagues, “Where does the time go?” And, during our #PRStudChat chat sessions, you’d see me tweet, “Wow, time flies!”
Everything that I did or didn’t do in 2014, came down to one simple factor … Time!
So, before starting off in 2015 with a new or expanded list of resolutions, it thought it would be a good idea to get this “time” factor in check. Here are my five simple time tips to get focused and to help find time in the New Year:
- Don’t Meet, Unless It’s Important. What you can do in an email, you should do in an email. Only schedule conference calls with your clients, teams, colleagues, partners, etc., if it’s absolutely necessary. Of course, if you need to have a meeting, then make sure you have a good agenda prepared ahead of time and distributed in advance. The agenda will keep everybody on track and not allow your meeting to go into overtime. You also want to make sure you have clear goals of what should be accomplished during the meeting. When it comes to your meeting schedule and your precious time, first try to help, answer questions and solve issues through correspondence. However, if a meeting is truly necessary, then your best bet is to always guide the group with a planned agenda of discussion topics, allowing you to start and stop the meeting within a set timeframe and to accomplish your pre-planned goals.
- Be Selective with Your News: Clean Out Your Inbox. There’s no need to have a cluttered inbox with 50 different news sources that you never get the opportunity to review. I find a lot of my emails come from news sources; some are very helpful newsletters to get the most important news and other sources that probably don’t need to be a apart of my daily reading. For me, theSkimm, Huffington Post, CommPRO.biz, Business Insider and my PRSA member newsletter give me a well-balanced look at daily world news and a good industry briefing. And, if you’re reading your news on your smartphone then, it’s important to find a good app, such as Circa or Flipboard, so you can get all of your most important news in an instant. Relying on a few good sources, delivering exactly what you need, is so much better than an abundance of sources that give you some helpful tidbits of information, but require you to search through articles, wasting more of your time.
- Work in Scheduled Times to Check Social Media. Of course, if you’re a community manager then it’s your job is to be on social media more often to help your customers and to engage people in conversations. This particular time tip may not apply to you. However, if you’re like the rest of us, then you may find that selecting specific times to check your social media community activity is a much more efficient way to “listen” and engage. In a perfect world, I would like to be active on social media around 9 a.m. in the morning, at lunchtime, and then again in the evening. However, it’s really important to match the time you want to spend on social media with the time your community is the most active. In 2014, I often found myself at the mercy of my Twitter feed, at any given time. I’m going back to the set time method to check in, making sure my alerts are turned on should something of great importance pop up that needs my quick and careful attention.
- Tech Test More For Productivity. When you learn about new resources that gather and filter information for you, suddenly you can become better organized and you have even more time to help others reach the same efficiencies. So, yes, Tech Testing your tools, platforms and resources, from your social media monitoring and measurement tools to team collaboration and project management platforms, takes a time investment at the onset. However, finding the right tools and platforms, based on what works best for you and your team, will lead to more productivity together and much less wasting of precious time as individuals working in silos.
- Maximize Your Down Time. With the ability to take media “on the go” such as podcasts, and audio books, you can really make the best use of your down time. In 2014, I spent many hours commuting to New York to teach at NYU and plenty of time waiting for scheduled appointments. How many hours did you spend sitting in a waiting room for your doctor or your dentist appointments?. Having a subscription to Audible and listening to my favorite podcasts on iTunes is one of the best ways to learn in short clips. Yes, there are interruptions when you’re on the go and you’re experiencing bursts of knowledge. But, it’s better than not having the opportunity to use this time to experience something new. Learning is always my goal, so by maximizing my downtime time, by increasing my learning 10-fold, I’ll be able to achieve so much more in 2015.
Now that I’ve shared some of the ways you can make “time of the essence” and not let “time fly by,” you can move forward into 2015 ready to plan, tackle, and, of course, achieve all of your goals.
How are you going to find the time, and what will you do differently in 2015, so that you it can be your most productive year?