Think there are never enough hours in the work day to get everything done? Then it's time to start examining the way you manage, well, time.
In an internal email turned viral post, head of product marketing at Google Apps for Work, Jeremiah Dillon, sent his team several tips for making the most of a work day. Here are the four takeaways you can start using right away:
1. Identify your work style.
Dillon brings up two types of schedules that most people operate by: the manager and the maker.
The manager's day is traditionally cut into 30-60 minutes intervals, which means you are constantly changing what you are working on throughout the day.
But that management style for makers, typically writers, programmers and other creatives, can be counterproductive. Makers tend to break up their day in half unit blocks to focus on brainstorming and creating. "Even a single 30 minute meeting in the middle of 'Make Time' can be disruptive," Dillon says, adding that regardless of our roles, "we all need to be makers."
2. Be purposeful and specific when setting time aside.
Setting up an implementation intention will increase the likelihood of finishing a project or attaining a goal. In the case of time management, it works by specifically putting "Make Time" on your calendar every week and making sure your colleagues are aware this time is reserved.
Dillon brings up an experiment that tested these principles. The control group was asked to exercise once in the next week. Experiment group 1 was asked the same thing and also told why exercise was important to their health. But experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place and at a specific time. Here's what happened:
- 29% of control group participants exercised
- 39% of experiment group 1 exercised
- 91% of experiment group 2 exercised
If you regularly work on big projects with many moving components, scheduling chunks of your "Make Time" on specific days with specific goals will increase the chance of you accomplishing those tasks.
3. Have fewer meetings and invite less people.
This is reoccurring theme for best time management principles, and it's a simple one: the more time you spend in meetings, the less time you have for working on projects. If you must meet, only invite people who really need to be there. Fewer attendees means more productive discussions and shorter meetings. A win-win.
4. The time you choose for meetings and making matters.
Perhaps the largest takeaway from Dillon's email is how your energy runs the course of a wave throughout the week. He suggests planning your schedule like this:
Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low demand tasks like setting goals, organizing and planning.
Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning and relationship building
"Always bias your Make Time towards the morning, before you hit a cycle of afternoon decision fatigue," Dillon says. "Hold the late afternoon for more mechanical tasks."
Here's his whole email visualized in a video.
About the Author
Nicole is Director of Marketing at Kintone, with 10+ years experience in content strategy, campaign management, lead acquisition and building positive work cultures of empowered, purpose-driven team members. She spent seven years as a journalist, previously serving as a CBS San Francisco digital producer, NPR contributor, Patagon Journal deputy editor and reporter for several publications, including the Chicago Tribune. She's passionate about the tech for good space, social entrepreneurship and women leadership. On the weekends, you’ll likely find her putting her Master Gardener skills to use in at community gardens in Oakland.