Whilst attending the ‘Designers Fiesta’ in London, I sat in on the time management talk. The speaker, Paul Sampson of Ignition4Business outlined how you can be more proactive in managing deadlines and projects.
Whether you work alone as a freelancer, or in an office within a team you must always meet targets and expectations. If we don’t, our performance, career or income could suffer. Here are a few tips I took from the talk which may be of use to anyone looking to manage their time better.
If you are someone who is most productive in the mornings, then prioritize your most important tasks at that specific time. You will find there is a dramatic increase in the quality and speed in which you complete your project. However, if you choose to work when you are at your least productive your effectiveness and work rate will decline substantially.
As a designer, I find it is very important to take regular breaks in order to stay focused and creative. A study found the highest-performing 10% of workers tend to work for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break.
Here at Reflect Digital, we are encouraged to regularly take a break from our desks. We can relax on the beanbags, play pool or get some fresh air in the neighbouring park.
Becoming distracted may seem as though it only disturbs us for a few seconds. However, a lack of focus causes a considerable drop in productivity. A mobile phone, for instance, can be a huge distraction. In an age where the internet and social media is constantly at our fingertips, it is difficult to remain dedicated and focused on the task at hand. Paul Sampson recommended turning off all devices or leaving them in our bags out of reach.
Co-workers can sometimes be off-putting. Loud noises and gossip can easily divert your attention. Within our office at Reflect Digital, a member of staff wearing headphones is recognised as, ‘please do not disturb me’. This is a simple and polite method of letting your co-workers know you need to concentrate on your work. Alternatively, Sampson suggested implementing a flag system. A green flag displayed on your desk implies ‘I’m free to chat’. A red flag indicates you are busy and do not want to be disturbed.
The key to avoiding these distractions is recognising them before they take hold and eliminating them.
When done correctly, meetings are a great tool for idea sharing, exchanging information and important decision making. However, most are viewed negatively among people – especially creatives! According to a study conducted by Red Letter Days For Business, 46% of meetings are excessively long. This can leave the participants feeling frustrated and unmotivated.
Below are some simple suggestions, which will help counteract these negative preconceptions:
Keep it short - Having a five-minute team chat at the beginning/end of the day focuses staff on important tasks.
Team time - Rather than all team members being present in the meeting, one colleague could attend and take notes for the others.
Actions and deadlines - Actions and deadlines need to be outlined towards the end of the meeting. If these are not set, staff may feel as if it was a waste of time. Tasks ensure they stay motivated and productive during the working day.
Unnecessary time wasting - Clients and customers are situated all over the country. Instead of spending time on travel, suggest a Skype call.
Sampson stated that if these simple tips are followed correctly, you could add an extra 20% of time to your working day. Just think how much added productivity that is and how many more tasks you would be able to complete.
“Make time be your servant, not your master”