Time is Running Out. Here are 3 Ways to Manage Your Time Wisely
Will you Manage Your Time wisely, or should you use it on something else? Many people have felt more pressure to manage their time since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. Working from home gave us more freedom but made it harder to separate work and personal life, making the day seem endless for some.
We talked to three Harvard Business School experts, and they shared research-based tips to manage your time wisely, which is a very important but limited resource. Here’s what they had to say.
DJ DiDonna: Life is Short, So Think About Taking a Break
The pandemic made many of us take a break from our regular lives. The good part about this sudden change was that it gave us a chance to look at how we were living and think about living differently in the future. Just like what we found in our research about sabbaticals, we discovered three things about how we use our time:
- We can adjust how we work to suit our human needs better than we thought. After seeing how flexible our businesses and employees can be in response to outside changes, we must keep that flexibility and prioritize our personal lives.
- A different place can make a big impact, and you can’t copy that effect. A study of Israeli professors found that those who regularly took breaks in other countries had much better personal and work results than those who stayed at home.
- How long you take a break matters. People in our study who weren’t in academia said it took them a lot longer than expected, about 6 to 8 weeks, to stop thinking about work and start having a good time. Taking a longer break is important, but you need to plan and set boundaries for it to work.
The most crucial thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic about managing our time is that life is brief, valuable, and full of surprises. If you don’t actively make time for important things, you might end up being pushed out of your regular routine by something unexpected and probably not good. As one person we talked to in our research summed up: If you do not take a break, a break might end up taking you. So, learn to manage your time wisely.
Leslie Perlow: Think About the Place Where You Work, Not Only the Time You Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered various changes in how people handle their time, some good and some not so good. Nowadays, it’s crucial for individuals to be very deliberate about how they spend their time at work. Additionally, organizations and teams need to work together to think about how everyone uses their time. It’s important to consider where you are in relation to your team. It’s good to be at the office when your coworkers are there, but it might not be so great if you’re working from home while your colleagues are at the office together.
“Our findings show that choosing your work location carefully is crucial and considering how it impacts your team members.”
Michel and I spent half a year studying this at a biomedical research place. We kept track of where employees worked each day using their ID badges and asked them questions about their work and life every two weeks. What we discovered was that what affected each employee’s personal results like their well-being, productivity, and learning was more about where their coworkers were working at that time, rather than just where they were working themselves.
Our research emphasizes the importance of being deliberate about where you work and considering its impact on your team. It’s vital to coordinate when you’re physically present in the office and when you’re working remotely, no matter where that might be.
The goal is to encourage employees at all levels within the organization. Pay attention to their connections with others, not only in terms of their collaborative work but also in terms of where they choose to work. This is especially relevant because we are in a time when people have a wide range of choices regarding where, when, and how they spend their time. You should try to manage your time wisely.
Arthur Brooks: Have Fewer Meetings to Feel Happier at Work
The pandemic altered how we handle our time in various ways, and regrettably, some changes have been bad. The most concerning change is that we now have more unproductive, time-wasting work meetings.
Meeting time has increased since we started working in both the office and remotely. On average, employees now have about 12.9% more meetings than before the pandemic. This is not good for job satisfaction. In a recent survey, 46% of people said they’d rather do almost anything else, like watching paint dry, having a root canal, or going to the DMV instead of attending meetings.
“Happiness can increase when we have fewer and shorter meetings, making it one of the best ways to manage our time better.”
Meetings can make people less happy at work for a few reasons. First, when employees feel like meetings are time-wasting, they are less satisfied with their jobs and less happy overall. Second, unnecessary meetings often make people more tired and feel like they have a lot to do. Third, research on brain waves shows that having one meeting after another can slowly make people more stressed. Lastly, during meetings, people often have to pretend to feel a certain way, which can be emotionally tiring and make them think about quitting their jobs.
There are several ways to make this better. A study from Microsoft found that taking short breaks between meetings helps. When people did this, their brainwave patterns exhibited that they were more engaged and less stressed.
A better idea is to have days without any meetings at all. Some experts suggest that having 4 meeting-free days is best for productivity and keeping employees engaged. But if you need to have meetings, it’s best to have 25 minutes. This is because it’s the right amount of time for people to stay focused. Also, according to experts, it’s a good idea to have 7 or fewer people so that each person can stay more focused. Happiness can increase when we have fewer and shorter meetings. This is one of the best ways to manage our time better. It is important to manage your time wisely.
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