A funny thing happens to most of us on the way to the corner office: With each successive project and promotion, we find that we have more than ever to do, but more freedom than ever when it comes to how and when we get it done. That mix of increased responsibilities and scheduling flexibility can be a great advance or a crippling weakness, depending on how you handle it.
With that in mind, here is a piece of advice that has always worked very well for me and my clients:
Schedule some time to work uninterrupted on your most important tasks,
and do it during the part of the day when you have the most energy.
In other words, think about when you feel your best, at your most energetic and creative, and then set aside those personal productive hours each day to accomplish something important. Don’t take phone calls, don’t set up meetings if you don’t have to, and otherwise do whatever possible to minimize distractions.
This one habit will allow you to do your best work when it’s most important, not to mention give you some day-to-day progress on the biggest challenges you are likely to face in your career. Additionally, it frees you up to spend the rest of your hours, those when you might feel like you have less energy, or are winding down, doing routine tasks like returning phone calls and e-mails, or sitting in meetings. Those are always likely to be a part of your working life, but there is no reason they should take up the best part of your day. Add these techniques to your time management skills.
If you don’t yet have very much control over your schedule, do what you can with your colleagues and supervisors to build in a little bit of flexibility. And if you do have some control over when you work, give this method try – I can almost assure you that you’ll be glad you did.