You being too available to people can cause you to have stress, making it difficult for you to manage time. A lot of us consider ourselves to be professional, proficient, efficient and good at what we do. We really pride ourselves on being helpful. The last thing that we want to do is to let anybody down or not be available for them. Those who have worked in roles where they are serving others such as executive assistants, PAs, virtual assistants, assist someone else to be more productive and efficient. We feel an overwhelming responsibility to be helpful and to be constantly available, causing us to be less effective and worsen our time management skills.
Ways to Improve Time Management

#1 Be more assertive

Figure out how you can be more assertive. Being more assertive does not mean being aggressive, negative or confrontational. Being assertive means to push back in a way that is professional. It’s how you can say no without actually having to say no.  You won’t be able to set boundaries in terms of your capabilities and limitations if you’re constantly saying yes.  It’s about having language to assert your wants and needs in order to do the best that you can do and work effectively. If you are constantly available, then you are enabling that culture which is disruptive. 

#2 Avoid Multitasking

Research has shown that we become three times less effective by multitasking. For example, texting while driving is worse than drinking and driving. If we have to switch our brain on and off, it will take us three times as long to complete a task. Don’t create a culture of being constantly available which causes you to switch from one task to another. 

#3 Save time on emails!

 When I’m working with people to be more time efficient, I teach them a strategy on how to save time within their emails. Constantly revisiting your email inbox can eat up to 2 hours a day of your valuable time. This equates to 12 weeks a year! Hence, it is recommended to turn off the email notifications alerting you every time an email comes in. I have had executive assistants tell me that they want to respond to their boss’s email right when they get them. Their job is to actually do the work, not to monitor emails, looking out and watching for every email that comes in. 

Having a solid system of being able to revisit your emails periodically throughout the day, the rest of the time doing the work at hand.  This will lead you to be far more efficient. Don’t feed into that culture of constantly being available and being at everybody’s beck and call. Give people time frames for when they will hear back from you or when will you be available next. For example, tell them  that you’ll come back to them by the end of the day, by the end of the week or within two weeks, whatever it is, that’s realistic for you. The best thing to do is to underpromise and over-deliver. Tell people you’ll get back to them by early next week and get back to them by the end of the week, and you’ll look like a superstar! 

#4 Use Appropriate tools to improve Time Management

Use tools that enable you to switch off or to let people know that you’re not available right now, like putting your phone onto going straight into your message bank, using autoresponders on your emails etc. Simply putting your headphones at work will tell people that you’re concentrating  and listening and not taking in everything that’s going on around you. In conclusion, use simple tools to let people know you’re not available just at the moment. 

I’d love to hear back from you about how you make yourself less available without cutting off people completely in order to be more efficient and more productive.

What tips and tools and advice could you give to somebody in this situation as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do comment below. 

Do’s

  1. Be assertive in a way that is professional 
  2. Set realistic time frames for when people can hear back from you.
  3. Use appropriate tools to improve your time management skills

Don’ts 

  1. Avoid Multitasking when you respond to every inquiry immediately.
  2. Don’t waste your time in constantly visiting your inbox
  3. Switch off your notifications and compartmentalise your time accordingly for the assigned tasks.

P.S. If you’re a Busy Working Woman and you’d like more advice, tips and information to minimise stress and maximise time, join our Facebook tribe of Busy Working Women Owning Their Lives.

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management strategist and stress management practitioner based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.

She is on a mission is to become the no.1 resource to help people unclutter the chaos and break free from the shackles of overwhelm so that they wake each day inspired and motivated to work in peak performance and to live on purpose. Barbara is known around Australia for her training, coaching, online programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships.