You sit down with a cup of coffee to answer a few emails, and just like that, it’s 4 p.m. Studies show that mobile devices can enhance our decision-making, communication, productivity and efficiency, but data also affirms they can disrupt and distract us.
Enter the need for time management skills.
As a real estate agent with Mid South Realty, I’m no stranger to a fast-paced, on-the-go work environment. It’s taken years to master, but with these easy-to-follow tips, I’ve learned how to maximize each hour of my day, whether in or out of the office.
1. Do a time audit.
We often miscalculate how long tasks take. Keep an eye on the clock for at least a week to track your time and set a more realistic schedule. This will help you eliminate potential time sucks and take advantage of otherwise “lost time,” such as doctor’s appointments.
It’s a fact: Our brains love completing to-do lists. Order your tasks based on importance and urgency, and delegate and defer to others when possible. If certain activities aren’t critical to meeting a goal, delete them. If your workload is still too much, ask for help. Consider taking on a team member, calling on a supportive colleague or teaming up with a service provider you can trust to get the job done.
3. Find a prime time.
People function better at different points of the day. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, leverage your productivity sweet spot by scheduling pressing or complex tasks within that window.
4. Minimize disruptions.
It’s impossible to eliminate all distractions, but we can prevent ourselves from getting sidetracked by utilizing tools like task timers, Do Not Disturb and silent mode. Encouraging our contacts to leave detailed voicemails or texts also eliminates unneeded back and forth.
5. Set boundaries.
Forget the “always-on” mentality. No one can — or should — work 24/7. We must be intentional about unplugging to spend time with our family, friends or on self-care. I like to put downtime and vacation on my calendar to ensure follow-through.
We’re often told, “Work smarter, not harder.” But that’s easier said than done. Fortunately, effective time management skills can help us meet this goal in the workplace and outside of it, too.
Amber Wood is a partner, vice president of sales and agent with Mid South Realty, a Little Rock-based real estate brokerage specializing in investment properties.