Professionals today seem to work harder and for longer hours than previous generations did. But are you working smarter? Those breaks between meetings are valuable time to get caught up and get ahead.
Modern-day jobs demand efficiency from people, not just long hours. Gratuitous long hours persist, but things are getting better and companies are getting wiser. Organizational culture and enabling tools are all coming together like never before to boost employee efficiency.
If you're in a leadership role, you probably spend a good chunk of your working hours commuting between meetings. This time spent in taxis or waiting in a cafe until your next appointment is a treasure that can often be wasted if you’re just scrolling through Facebook.
Here are five tips for making the most of that "in between” time and improving your productivity.
1. Tick Tasks off Your to-do List
There are usually many small tasks to be taken care of in a working day. These don’t require much work or thought, but still have to get done.
Need to schedule a departmental consultation? Have to approve expense claims for team members? Create a to-do list of these items and use your idle time to get them done. By the end of the day, you'll have successfully completed many of these things that needed only a minute or so.
Plus, there’s something incredibly satisfying about striking them off your list.
2. Catch Up on Emails
Emails often seem never-ending. As you respond to one, there are five more pinging their way into your mailbox. Use your downtime and your phone to catch up and reply to them. This is better than letting them pile up until the end of the day.
Many emails only require quick responses or confirmations. Speed through them. As an added tip, unsubscribe from any nagging notification emails that you don’t really need.
3. Prepare for Your Next Meeting
What better opportunity to get ready for your meeting than when sitting in a cab on your way to it? Take this spell to go over your previous notes in detail. List points that you want to discuss and even brainstorm ideas with colleagues.
This preparation can help to keep all the points fresh in your mind as you begin your talks. Some contact management systems and CRMs also let colleagues gather client notes in the contact file. That’s a very useful feature as you can go through the notes your colleague have left there, and use them during your own meeting.
4. Jot Down Thoughts from the Meeting You Just Completed
Use this time to go over and organize your notes from your just-concluded discussions. If you use a cloud-based contact management solution, you can also do this using the mobile version of the app so that the information is readily available for you to browse later.
Coming fresh from your meeting, you will be able to recall a lot more. So compile the details quickly so you don’t forget them.
5. Catch Up on Your Reading
Content floods us across social media. There’s always an interesting report or article that we want to read, whether it’s market information or competitor news. Good headlines are hard to ignore.
However, the busy workday often doesn’t let us more than skim the content. Save all the long-form content you want to read in detail and use your downtime to catch up on it. You never know when an article could provide an interesting talking point for your next meeting.
As a final note, remember that these tips aren’t about cramming as much as possible into each day. They’re more about smart time management. This way, once you finish your meetings for the day, you can go home to your family or for a yoga class instead of heading back to the office to catch up on the little things.