5 time sucks and how to overcome them
We all have good intentions to be focused, efficient and not let anything get in our way during our workday. But, sometimes – and it happens more often than we may care to admit – we inevitably allow certain time wasters to derail us.
None of us are immune! But, it’s in how we deal with the so-called “time sucks” that makes the difference between being able to stay focused or getting “pulled down the rabbit hole,” where we end up getting little or nothing done.
Here are my top five time sucks – in no particular order – along with my recommendations on overcoming them.
1. Internet/Social Media
Practically ALL of us are guilty of this time suck: we intend to “quickly“ check our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts, only to realize that, hours later, the time has TOTALLY gotten away from us.
Ways to overcome this time suck: Avoid getting on social media first thing. Schedule the time on your calendar, as you do with any appointment: set an alarm, and stop once the alarm goes off. Be intentional with the allotted time by creating a task list and following it. If financially feasible to do so, hire someone and delegate the task to him or her.
Email has its place, but I believe that most of us would agree that it’s difficult to manage workflow using email communications. It’s especially true when dealing with multiple projects, multiple people and multiple “moving parts.”
Ways to overcome this time suck: Implement a workspace platform, such as Slack, to manage communication by project. Set up a Google account and take advantage of the FREE Google Drive platform to create shared folders for document sharing, which can be linked to your Slack account (and, if you already have a free Dropbox account, this will also work!). Set up a separate email account strictly for “junk” email and email subscription communications.
3. Document Management
Whether it’s continuously sending reminder after reminder to request financial records each month, or physically handling growing stacks of paper documents, we can all agree what a major time suck this process can be!
Ways to overcome this time suck: Spell out in all client agreements that documents are to be handled electronically BEFORE client engagement. Use a document fetching service, such as Hubdoc, to automate the electronic process as much as possible. Use a workspace platform/ shared documents combo to manage all vital documents. Integrate a project management app, such as Asana, or use the QBOA work tab, to manage reminders.
No matter how well we plan our day, situations may crop up that seemingly “need” our immediate attention, but may not be urgent. For example, we’ve ALL had that client call or text with an “emergency” where they expect us to drop everything and attend to their need, when, in reality, it’s not an emergency at all! Also related to this topic is phone tag: we all know how frustrating it is to navigate the maddening cycle of missed calls, not to mention the lost opportunities resulting from this antiquated way of scheduling.
Ways to overcome this time suck: Screen ALL calls by letting voicemail do the heavy lifting – set up a FREE Google Voice number to use as the business’ main (public) contact. It’s also a good idea to set the tone early by including the parameters for handling these situations in all written agreements. If a client leaves a message, be sure to acknowledge politely via email (this is one circumstance where email is appropriate, as it serves as a written record). If necessary, kindly remind them of the parameters spelled out in the agreement. Direct them to a scheduling link to set up a phone call or in-person visit, if necessary: using an automated scheduling, system such as Calendly, cuts down the time it takes to set up those appointments by at least half. Prospects are also less likely to slip through the cracks.
5. Taking on too Much/Saying YES to Everything
Many of us do not want to disappoint when we’re asked to do something for someone. A lot of times, we may say YES to a request without really taking the time to consider the consequences, including the time it may take to do the task and the time it will take away from previous/current commitments to other projects, people and more.
Ways to overcome this time suck: Don’t say YES as an immediate response; instead, tell the person that time is needed to consider their request. After a few days – and ONLY after thorough consideration – provide a YES or NO response. And, remember, there’s no need to justify a NO answer. There’s also no need to feel guilty over a NO answer – it’s actually better to say NO than it is to say YES and not be able to follow through on a commitment.
We ALL desire to make the best use of our time every day. Implementing even a handful of these suggestions will help us minimize the effects of these time sucks and maximize our daily efficiency and effectiveness.