Like many, I struggle finding enough hours in the day to get everything done. I work late, travel often, spend too much time in my inbox, and often not enough time with my family. Finding the right balance between work and family is critical to my health and happiness. Here are some techniques I’ve found helpful in managing my time so that I am productive at work and am home in time for dinner and bedtime stories with my family.
Use Commuter Time to Prep and Catch Up
I have a commute of about one hour each way. I have the option to take public transportation or fight the traffic behind the wheel. Some may see two hours in commute time as a chore, but I see it as an opportunity to be more available to my team and clear more things from the day. If I have calls to make I’ll plan to drive, and if I don’t I’ll take the public route as it is likely the only two hours in the days where I will have uninterrupted time behind the keyboard. Think of your commuter time as time to prep on the way in and time to clear the deck on the way out.
Use Your Calendar to Schedule Business and Personal Time
My calendar’s availability is my availability and open slots are not open for long. I’m terrible at crossing off items on a to-do list, but am quite dedicated to participating in whatever activity my calendar has me doing at the moment. Because my calendar fills up so quickly, I block personal time so that I can work on projects I wouldn’t otherwise have time to work on. In fact, the reason I am writing this article and not writing on the whiteboard with a teammate is because I blocked off time to focus on sharing my thoughts.
Step Away from the Inbox
The number one thing that prevented me from being present at home was an overwhelming inbox that kept me working until about 10 every night. I’ve made a few rules, like trying to inbox zero twice a week and deleting anything that is two weeks old because if it was that important, that person will get back in touch with me, but I’ve made one change that has significantly given me back time. I’ve stopped using it for conversations and I’ve dedicated it to storage of assets. If I have news to share/receive, connections I want to make/have made, ideas to pontificate on, I pick up the phone or walk across the office and have conversations. These conversations quickly answer questions or bring up points that would otherwise not have been caught and do so in a fraction of the time that an email thread would.
These are a few techniques I use to make the most of my time so I can spend more time with my most important assets. How do you manage your time?