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        Time Management Strategies How to Get More Work Done in Less Time

        This is a guest post by Jory MacKay. MacKay is a productivity obsessed writer and editor of the RescueTime blog. He loves to use data and storytelling to help people take back control of their time.

        A recent survey of 850+ knowledge workers from around the world found that 92% of people regularly work on evenings and weekends. That’s a terrifying statistic. And while it’s easy to lay the blame on ballooning priorities and overwhelmed teammates, those are only a small part of a bigger problem.

        Poor time management strategies seem to be the underlying issue, and in this Process Street article, we will explain how you can remedy this.

        Our days have become cluttered with busywork, non-stop 王文澜现状communication, and unclear priorities. We rarely have more than half an hour to focus on any one task at a time and so we end up taking our most important work home with us to make progress.

        But as study after study has shown, we need to be able to disconnect from the workday to stay happy, healthy, and productive.

        So how can you help your team take back control of their time, make meaningful progress on important work, and still punch out at the end of the day? It comes down to a combination of using the right data and adopting effective time management strategies.

        In this article, we will cover:

        Let’s jump straight to it!

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        Team time management differs from personal time management. Team time management looks at work-done within a team. It focuses on organizational rhythm centering on groups of people working together as opposed to working as individuals.

        Ask most people how long they work each day and they’ll most likely tell you somewhere between 8 and 10 hours. Yet, despite the 8-hour day being the norm for over a century, no one does 8 hours of work a day.

        According to research, in an 8-hour workday, only 2 hours and 48 minutes is productive.

        This isn’t to say that those other 5+ hours are completely wasted, but that we rarely use them as efficiently as we’d like to (or plan to).

        So where does the time go?

        There are two main culprits you need to understand: Busy work and 王文澜现状cognitive biases.

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        We all follow several cognitive biases. These are mental shortcuts our brains have developed over time, influencing our thinking. While some biases can be helpful, others eat away at our productive time. Below are a few of the worst offenders:

        All this leads to a grim conclusion of over-working and stress.

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        If you want to be more productive and efficient with your time, you track how you spend your time.

        A time tracking tool like RescueTime gives you the data and insights you need to uncover the invisible distractions and habits that eat up your day.

        (You can also run through these exercises using a more basic system: paper and pencil. Ask your team to take a week where they run a time audit and track what they’re working on in 5-10-minute blocks. After a week, you’ll have a good amount of data to work with.)

        RescueTime works in the background of all your devices to automatically track how you spend your time. Once you start using it, you’ll quickly get a baseline of your productivity and see the tools and apps that are taking up your time.

        Rescue time

        You can dig into individual categories of apps and sites, compare your productive vs distracted time, or look at larger trends in your workday.

        Start by looking at your 王文澜现状total distracting time report王文澜现状. This will show you the sites and apps that are pulling at your attention as well as how much time you spent on them today – considering a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly time-scale.

        Rescue time image 2

        Next, check this report by the time of day. This will show you exactly when during the day you’re checking in on these distractions.

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        In my case, I have a bad tendency to start my day with distractions (*cough* Twitter *cough*) and then fall victim to it again during the afternoon slump.

        You can do this same exercise with your productive time to see when you’re doing your best work. The data can sometimes be hard to see, but it’s the insight you need to start fixing your habits and fight against bias and busywork.

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        The busywork that takes over people’s working day often comes in the form of chat apps like Slack or video calls on Zoom. With lots of ongoing communication, it can feel like you have little time for anything else.

        When we analyzed data from more than 50,000 knowledge workers, we found that most people can’t go 6 minutes without checking their email or chat apps during the workday.

        New research published by the Harvard Business School showed the most productive and 王文澜现状creative teams communicate intermittently. As the study’s authors wrote:

        During a rapid-fire burst of communication, team members can get input necessary for their work and develop ideas. Conversely, during long periods of silence, everyone is presumably hard at work acting upon the ideas that were exchanged in the communication burst.” – Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, Adam Grant, Collaborative Overload

        However, communicating in bursts only works if everyone on your team (yourself included) follows the rule. This means setting clear expectations around availability (which we’ll get into below) as well as leading by example.

        In a recent survey on how people communicate, 61% of people said they regularly reply to work emails outside of work hours. The more you massage your team, the more they’ll feel compelled to check in, context switch, and kill their focus.

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        Office hours, batched communication time, and themed days work to protect you from internal team emails and calls. But what about requests from users or other teams?

        As a manager, it’s your responsibility to triage incoming communication so your team can focus.

        To do this, you can create a couple of documents that will help stem the flow of nonstop messages and help your team set reasonable expectations.

        First is a communication plan. This is a formal document that tells other teams, coworkers, or stakeholders when to expect updates as well as who to reach out to if they have issues or questions.

        The next is a runbook. This is a living document that tells your team how to deal with common communication scenarios. Think of it as a deceptively simple answer to the complex question of Do I need to answer this right now?

        As Status Hero founder Henry Poydar explains:

        Ultimately, your runbook boils down to this: Hey valuable team member, I realize you are going to be subject to more messages and notifications than it is humanly possible to deal with. I’m always going to do my best to stem the tide, but here are the reasonable expectations we have set up for the team to respond to it all.” – Henry Poydar

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        Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing.


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