Time feels like an increasingly precious commodity in our lives.
With the huge rise in remote working from home, people have had to get used to many changes.
For some, the experience has been liberating. For others, more stressful than ever.
According to 2020 Government statistics, almost 47 per cent of people in employment did some work at home.
Around one third of those worked fewer hours than usual, one third more hours than usual. Women were more likely to work from home than men.
It All Adds Up
If you use a time tracking app like RescueTime or TimeCamp, you’ll quickly realise how you’re spending your days and weeks.
There will be project delivery work, marketing and planning. Take into account all the emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings, WhatsApp messages, invoicing and other admin and it soon adds up.
You may not realise just how much time you are spending in the job or business until you look at your tracking summary page.
It may not seem so bad if the weekly total is, say, 39 hours. But if your standard week is meant to be 37.5 hours you’re giving away 1.5 hours a week free. Over a 48-week year (allowing for holidays) that’s 72 hours ‘unpaid’.
If your rate is £30 per hour, that’s £2,160 of income you’ve lost.
It really does pay to make your working time count.
Avoid The Overwhelm of Big Change
One of the biggest challenges with time management is making changes to the way we work.
People get into habits (not always productive ones) and start looking into all the different options.
It can leave them feeling overwhelmed, either by the array of alternatives or by the enormity of ‘everything’ that needs to change.
This is where it can help to break things down into micro steps.
Rather than attempt a massive change in one go, make small adjustments to how you are working and using technology over time.
Change Your (Microsoft) Outlook
If you have Microsoft Outlook with 365 Business, you have a tool that will make it easy for you to make simple changes, week by week.
You can access it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Here are some simple ways to free up some time with Outlook, including via mobile.
Calendar – Add your personal calendar to your work account. This means when someone wants to schedule a meeting with the Scheduling Assistant, your calendar will show ‘personal events’ time as ‘busy’.
This helps protect your private time and avoid ‘time creep’. Remember, every hour extra you work each week is 48 hours over the year.
Task Management – If you receive an email message with an action point for you to carry out, you can create a task and include the email subject and a link to the Outlook conversation for quick reference.
Planning Tasks – Using My Day in your calendar allows you to assign time to complete important tasks for the day or week, and to set reminders to keep you focused. You can move things around your calendar with ‘drag and drop’ simplicity.
Daily Briefing – Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual productivity assistant) can deliver an email with important items to review, consider or execute. It’s a way to help you prepare for the day and set aside concentrated time to get things done.
Emails – With Outlook, you can schedule emails so they are delivered at a better time for people (so they are not disturbed at night or whilst on holiday). If you receive a message which requires a response, but cannot act on it straight away, you can ‘snooze’ the message and have it reappear at the top of your inbox later.
It’s Easy When You Know How
Microsoft Office and 365 are like quizzes.
They’re easy when you know the answers.
Thankfully, learning how to use Outlook (and how it integrates with other Microsoft applications, such as Teams) is a lot easier than swatting for Mastermind or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
If you took just one tip a week and implemented it in your work or business, you would find time savings adding up day after day. Over a year, it could give you back days (or even weeks) of time.
To see how easy it can be, take a look at my online courses for Microsoft Outlook.
If you’re also looking to save time when you use other Microsoft applications (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Teams) you may prefer the value of my complete box set of online courses, known as The Hub (aka ‘The Full Monty’).
Value your time. Manage your time. Enjoy the extra time your productivity gives you.