Effective time management is dependent, in part, on how creative you are.
Creativity means taking novel approaches to problems and issues. If you or your team follows the same routine every day, you could be wasting large chunks of time. When you use creative approaches to the tasks at hand, it often leads to new, time-saving breakthroughs and possibilities, whether they're in your job or in your career marketing program.
Here are some ideas that can increase your creativity and help you save time:
1. Figure Out Your Peak Performance Hour
Studies confirm most individuals do their best creative thinking early in the morning, although a significant number find their peak period to be mid-morning or late at night. A minority are most creative in the evening. Less than one in 12 is most creative during the afternoon. Manager tend to be early morning larks, but if you're not sure what time of day you're at your best, monitor yourself over a one- or two-week period.
2. Keep a Log
Keep a time log of what activities you undertake and when – similar to checking your productivity cycle – and also note your energy level and enthusiasm throughout the various parts of each day. In keeping this log, in between tasks, you might be surprised to find exactly when you perform analysis, write reports or undertake professional reading.
3. Make Small Adjustments
Factors that may enhance your personal creativity include, but are not limited to, wearing comfortable clothes, clearing space on your desk, using your favorite writing instrument or changing your posture (sitting, pacing, standing). Also, you might try readjusting the height of your seat; experimenting with the type, size and color or paper you use to write on; or even changing the font and point size as well as background colors on your desktop monitor, laptop or tablet.
4. Put Transition Time to Work
Be creative in using small amounts of time, such as the five minutes it takes you to walk to your office or the 25 minutes it takes to drive to work. Try to focus your attention on the forthcoming appointments or meetings. If you foresee a tough day ahead, don't fret. Simply contemplate the upcoming chore, put it into perspective and acknowledge its importance to your plan of action.
5. Use a Timer
Use a timer rather than a watch or clock to keep track of time. The temptation to look at the latter every five minutes is greater than most of us can resist. A timer with its face hidden, placed across the room or even tucked into a drawer will alert you when it's time to move on to another task or to end your day.
6. Make It Fun
If a task is boring or you're having difficulty concentrating, turn it into a challenge. This technique will make the time go much faster.
7. Park It 'Til Tomorrow
If you absolutely can't bring your attention back to a task, let it go for that day and try an overnight focus. Promise yourself to return to it with renewed concentration the next morning.
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. “The Work-life Balance Expert”®, speaks to accounting firms and associations on increasing their work-life balance so they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a life away from work. He is the author of Everyday Project Management, Breathing Space, and Simpler Living. Visit breathingspace.com.