COPE CopeLine Supervisor

May 2015

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

TIPs for Managing Your Time

Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late! wrote William Shakespeare in the Merry Wives of Windsor. Viewed from our high-octane world of the internet, social media and a 24/7 news cycle, it may come as a surprise--and perhaps some comfort--to know that procrastination and time management have been issues for humans for centuries.

Thankfully, a new school of time-management research focuses on priorities, capitalizing on how you work best and eliminating distractions and time wasters so that you can minimize stress and maximize your work-life balance. What follows are tips on how best to manage your time and overcome habits that keep you from being fully engaged. If you'd like to discuss these topics with a coach, contact us at

Don't Let Others Highjack Your Time

Own Your Time. For most people the first two hours of the day are their most productive according to Duke University's Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics and co-founder of Timeful, a time management app featured below. To make matters worse, those two hours are rarely our own. Answering email, attending meetings, or mentoring a colleague may improve overall workplace communication, but it often comes at a direct cost to your productivity. Ariely suggests making a task list for the next day at the end of each work day, and attacking it first thing each morning. To learn more about the latest thinking on ToDo lists, see below.

Four Time Wasters to Disown:
Email. Set email-free timezones, preferably when you are most productive, such as when you first arrive at the office. If there's something that needs to be discussed, opt for a face-to-face conversation. Is the person you need to speak to on the other coast? Call them. And if you still want a written record, write up a quick email after the conversation outlining where things left off and send to all relevant parties. On the surface it seems like more steps, but it can mean the difference between an hour of work and a two-day back and forth email discussion.

Interruptions. By some estimates, it makes more than 23 minutes to get back on track after an interruption. While hard to avoid, the trick is to learn how to manage them. If you're busy, let your phone go to voicemail. Set aside three times a day where you manage your inbox. If people stop-by to talk, let them know you can only spare a few minutes.

Saying Yes when your should say No. Making a lot of time commitments can teach us how to juggle various engagements and manage our time. However, you can easily take it too far. At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.

Failing to Set Priorities. This is the golden rule of time management: Complete most important tasks first. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first. Once you're done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You've finished the essential.

ToDo Lists: The Latest Thinking

ToDo lists can be problematic. First, many people quickly drop their ToDo list when they can't check-off finished tasks fast enough. Another problem is "gaming" or manipulating your list so that it looks like you've accomplished more than you have. The biggest problem however, says Harvard Business School's Teresa Amabile is the rigid, reductive format of most ToDo lists. "The really important things that don't generally have a specific deadline may be what you should be spending most of your time on." She emphasizes making meaningful progress over getting things done quickly and efficiently, regardless of their importance.

What's a Good ToDo list? Start with the format. Instead of sorting tasks by the order in which they arrive or by their due date, separate them into one of 4 categories as shown in the image above.

• Place the tasks that are Due Soon and Important in quadrant 1.
• Anything that is Not Due Soon and Not Important goes in quadrant 4.
• Next, focus on which tasks are Due Soon and Not Important. Why? Because if they are not important, they should probably be ignored.

The last step is the critical step and the one most of us stumble on. By choosing to ignore the Not Important and Due Soon, you'll immediately free-up time and be able to work on tasks that are Not Due Soon but Important thus saving yourself the stress and hardship of facing a deadline with too little time. To learn more about the 4-quadrant method click here.

There's An App for That

Featured in "Best New Apps" by Apple and PC Magazine's "100 Best iPhone Apps of 2014," the Timeful app gets things scheduled so you can get them done. It's a calendar, a ToDo list, and daily scheduler for things like diet and exercise. Advanced algorithms will make suggestions when to schedule them. It learns from your behavior and adapts to your schedule the more you use it. It can be synced to Google, Microsoft Outlook and Apple iCal. And it's FREE.

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