In this day and age, it’s rare to ever be “off the grid.” Mobile technology has enabled us to work virtually anywhere, anytime – which means that wherever you go, the office can feel like it goes with you. Just because we are more connected than ever with smartphones, computers, tablets, and services like in-plane Wi-Fi, doesn’t mean that life has to be overburdened by work.
The same tools and technology that may have created what feels like an “endless workday” can be turned into rebalancing mechanisms to stay efficient, effective and bring some order to the chaos.
Use Technology for Your Benefit
One of the problems with mobile technology is that you can stay connected anywhere – and everywhere.
The same technology that is keeping you connected 24/7 can actually be a problem-solver to time management.
There are multiple time management apps that you can couple together to save effort and energy. For example, the app SaneBox can help you separate important emails from less relevant ones while streamlining your content into a “daily digest.” Other apps, like Slack, can help you communicate with your team faster and tie into other platforms (like project management tools such as Asana) to streamline the communication into the deliverable. And there are even applications that use music and neuroscience to help you boost memory, creativity, and analysis capabilities (check out Focus@Will).
Identifying what are creating the “time sucks” in your world can help you look for the right mobile technology (yes, there’s an app for that!) so you gain better, more streamlined control of your schedule.
Tackle the Tough Projects First
Our brain rewards us for achieving incremental goals with a release of dopamine. That feel-good chemical gets released into our system whenever we accomplish a task or complete a goal, regardless of whether it is small or large. Which makes handling easier tasks very tempting when you are starting your day.
Oftentimes, checking email, responding to quick phone calls, and handling easier paperwork duties take precedent over large tasks because of the positive feeling of “checking something off the list.” The problem is you are left with the major tasks. After expending valuable energy on everything else, you’ve decreased your productivity and left yourself with less time to accomplish the tough projects, putting you in a “high pressure” situation.
Disrupt your work routine and start tackling the big projects first. This will help you stay more productive and get more done in the work day while buffering any time needed to handle unexpected setbacks. Additionally, there will be a much more rewarding release of dopamine when you cross off a big “to do” on the list – which means you’ll feel better and even more accomplished.
Multi-Tasking Is a Myth
Too often people accredit themselves with being a “great multi-tasker.” According to a report by Stanford University Psychology Professor Clifford Nass, nonstop multitasking actually wastes more time than it saves.
Although you might think you are effectively balancing your time between urgent duties, you’re really just dividing your energy and focus unevenly across too many efforts. The result is that you are not giving your best effort to each task. If you are having a conversation with a colleague while checking your text messages or if you are responding to emails while in a meeting, you are inevitably going to miss out on something important. You are asking your brain to volley back and forth between important information, playing Ping-Pong with your concentration.
Multi-tasking hurts your work performance, can impact your personal relationships at work when people do not feel you value their time, and increases the stress on your mind with the constant back and forth. Make your well-being a priority and eliminate multi-Retasking for good.
Stretch It Out
When the workday follows you, it can be easy to lose focus on personal health. Sitting at a desk all day, working on a laptop crouched on a couch, handling emails on smart phones while traveling, updating presentations while on airplanes, or any of the countless ways we can use technology to stay connected can be tough on the body.
The constant connection takes a toll on the mind – and the body. The happiest people, with the best work/life balance find ways to incorporate physical activity into their regular schedules. Whether you start small with a few stretches throughout the day to combat desk fatigue, or sign-up for training for a local marathon, every time you use your body physically you are helping exert some energy to relieve stress.
Mobile technology has the power to infuse convenience, speed, and efficiency into any workplace. That said, the constant connection can be downright smothering if not properly managed. Starting with a few small tips like these, you can take control of your time to improve the way you work and the way you live.