TAKING BACK MY MINUTES – A MULTITASKER’S CONFESSION
Time management is a funny thing. Often, those who appear most capable – the mega multitaskers – are juggling multiple cell phones, obsessively checking emails, attending every conference, or constantly engaging on Twitter. Unfortunately for these folks, looking busy or heck, even being busy doesn’t necessarily increase your prospects for long-term success. It’s productivity that bags the big results, long term. Productivity includes reliability, organization, ingenuity and creativity. It’s what we all want, but we sadly keep accepting its lesser cousin “busy” as a poor substitute.
Last week, my friend Lisa Slagle wrote a great post entitled, “Choosing Placidity.” Lisa said something that resonated with me: “Tonight though, I remembered what it is like to sit and do nothing. I’ve been so extraordinarily caught up in the details of my business, the acquiring, the personalities, the letting go, the considering, the creating, the constant problem solving, and the inside jokes”. Amen, sister. It’s easy to feel that if I’m not constantly DOING SOMETHING my company and/or my career will go down the tubes. Or, perhaps less dramatically, I’ll miss some great opportunities.
Michael Smart (one of the nation’s best media pitching gurus) just spent an hour today via webinar sharing tips for increasing productivity and improving work/life balance. He’s one of my favorite PR people. Not only is he crushing it professionally, but also he takes a genuine interest in people. Plus, he’s a true family man. So that makes two people, both of whom I greatly respect, who are saying the same thing – in less than a week.
I think it’s a sign.
There’s a myth that suggests distraction is a way of life, an encroaching miasma in today’s world that cannot be avoided. I’ve bought into that – at least at some level. I am an impulsive email/text/social media checker. Author Jess Martin described this condition as seeking a “digital hit.” And it’s not just me; a large majority of my professional counterparts are living this way, too.
Let me be clear: I know that a reactive approach doesn’t make success impossible. I just think that a reactive approach (as opposed to a responsive one) limits potential. Michael pointed out that when you choose reacting rather than responding, someone else is dictating your priorities. It also likely means work is seeping into other areas of life and taking over moments that should sacred – those that should be committed wholly to family, fun, faith or fitness.
Whether intentionally or not, I choose how I use my time, my moments, and I will never get them back. Even at 34, I can see time passing rapidly, and I don’t want to waste my time with digital hits. I don’t want distraction to dictate my days. I don’t have it all figured out so I’m starting small with just a few of Michael Smart’s suggestions:
• Limit checking email to 4 to 5 times per day (the ultimate goal is twice per day) • Concentrate, without interruption, for a minimum of one hour every day • Use that hour of concentration to do something that may not be urgent but that is important to the long-term success of our clients or Big Sky Public Relations
Finally, for all my media compatriots: Did you know that every time you switch tasks, it takes your brain two minutes to adjust? Two minutes! That means four minutes are wasted every time you switch over and back to check an email. Those e-mails could easily and appropriately be answered at a set time, and the lost minutes invested in something more productive
Enough. I’m taking my minutes back and investing them more wisely in 2016.
P.S. For public relations pros, I’d highly recommend joining Michael Smart’s Inner Circle, which is worth every penny. It’s an incredible network and Michael’s webinars provide media relations gold that I have not been able to find elsewhere.