Before your employer jumps up and down and accuses you of squandering your work day on ‘personal business’ let us be clear. There numerous legitimate ways you can fit extra activities and tasks into your working week. And I’m not talking texting on fag breaks.
With a little forward planning you can achieve a lot in the space between budgets and the boardroom and find more time to focus on the tasks that count. So let’s get started.
First of all you need to decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to work towards achieving your Bucket list? Move house, write a novel, or start your own business? Maybe your goal is be more effective at juggling multiple priorities. Start by writing down your long term goals, then break each one down into short term targets which you could potentially fit into your working week.
Next, think about all the spare time slots you might have available, but are currently not utilising effectively. These slots may fall into the following:
Ok it may be hard to concentrate on anything when you are squashed up in close proximity to other people’s armpits or kneecaps, but that is why God gave us headphones. Plug ‘em in and start listening to a mindfulness or foreign language app, or your favourite podcast. If you can change your commute so you avoid peak times this could also give you a bit of breathing space in more ways than one.
If you are one of those lucky people who do get a seat, you could be writing your blog, scheduling tweets or brainstorming ideas. Even using the time to compile a simple to-do list can your free up your brain and improve your focus.
And drivers can do the same. Use your hands free to catch up on phone calls or press play on your talking book and off you go. (Of course whatever you choose in the car shouldn’t be so demanding you fail to concentrate on the road. This is why meditation apps are not recommended as they may lead to an unplanned spell of relaxing in hospital, or at Her Majesty’s pleasure.)
Your lunch break
Assuming you take one (and if not, why not!) make sure you use it proactively. Take your lunch to work, which will save you money and all that faffing around in the food queue. Use the time online to sort out your finances, research and plan your social life, or complete those mundane tasks like online grocery shopping. Just remember to keep to your allotted time and make sure you check you are within your company’s acceptable Internet use policy. If not, get on down to your local coffee shop and take up residence there. Think about what errands you could also do locally that you normally save for weekends such sorting out dry cleaning, re-heeling boots or last minute gift shopping.
Also think about how you can regain time in your working life. If you are constantly travelling to meetings, swap to telephone or video conference calling. If you must travel, book tickets in advance and collect on the day to avoid queuing for tickets and aim to fit several meetings at the same location.
Indulge in water cooler conversations. I’m not talking about mindless gossip and what happened on ‘Game of Thrones’, but about using the power of networking to discover what makes your colleagues tick. Steer small talk conversations into big talk. What are your colleagues passionate about? What do they want to achieve both at work and in their personal live? You may discover connections and synergies you never knew you had, which can lead to shared projects and ideas to save you time.
Think ‘Trump size’
I’m not a great fan of Donald Trump, but as he’s somehow managed to run for president, there must be something we can learn from his sense of self belief. Donald’s philosophy is simple: whatever you do – think big and stop focusing on the little things. If you think ‘Trump size’ you’ll start asking ‘what is the bigger picture?’ How will my actions impact on the business or my life as a whole? What could I be doing better? Taking time to concentrate on the bigger projects, will mean your day doesn’t get swallowed up with minutiae.
Never forget that although time spent at work may not be 100% the way you would choose to spend your day, it is still very precious. So use it well.