A Time Management Tip for Each Day
Much has been written (including by me) about the importance of managing your time, staying focused, avoiding distractions, and we certainly can all recognize why that’s an important part of business savvy. However, just last year, I learned one caveat or “wrinkle” on that focus which I now call “The Five-Minute Glance at Something.” This is when you take just five minutes to look at something that is not your number one focus for today. It might even be a B priority, but nonetheless, you give the document, project or communication a cursory ‘once over’ glance – usually a five-minute task. Why is this so helpful? Well, generally in five minutes you can determine such things as:
- If there’s a big disconnect somewhere on a project or direction
- If there’s one key aspect that needs immediate attention or further action
- How long the whole project will probably take
- What else is required and who else should be involved
- Is this something you should really do, drop, or delegate
- Your key message or takeaway for an upcoming meeting
Now sometimes we just think that something is a B priority, or we don’t have time to dive in fully at the moment, so we procrastinate. Or maybe someone else did the project and you trust them, so you think it’s probably fine to let it sit in your in-box for a bit. I’m sure you can relate to that type of thinking, given how much we all have on our plates in today’s busy world. Sifting and sorting what warrants our attention is a daily process. Given all that, we sometimes fail to implement “The Five-Minute Glance,” but then oops! Have you ever gotten a big surprise later when you went back and picked up the trail?
Let me explain what happened last year, and I’ll bet you can relate to my story. One of our consultants was coming in from out of town for an extended visit which involved some weekend time at my place. Like most people, I cherish my weekends for rest and renewal, therefore these types of visits are generally planned carefully so as not to fully absorb the entire weekend. Although this was a known consideration among our core office team, the consultant was not aware of this. Unwittingly, he chose a flight that had him arriving early Saturday. He emailed his itinerary – a couple of months in advance mind you, but none of us (including me) bothered to look at it when it came in. Personally, I assumed the project manager would have communicated “late Saturday afternoon” arrival, but somehow that critical detail did not get through.
On Wednesday of that same week he was flying in, I finally glanced at his itinerary and immediately exclaimed “Oh no!” once I realized he’d be showing up early Saturday instead of late in the day. But as you can appreciate, by this time, it was problematic to change his flight. Yet it would’ve been no problem at all had someone caught this when it was first booked. Instead, we had one of those last-minute ‘tempests in the teapot’ to contend with, no fun at all!
I had to ask myself, what would it have taken for me to have glanced at that itinerary when it first came in, knowing I had some skin in the game on that trip? The answer: five minutes maximum. Actually, only two minutes to open the reservation and read it, three minutes to communicate and solve the problem then and there. How does that math compare with a situation you’ve encountered recently?
Since then I’ve become acutely aware of this “Five-Minute Glance” concept and have begun to use it often. It generally takes only five minutes to have another person proof an important document to avoid errors and rework. Five minutes to open your mail and make sure nothing is urgent and that things don’t pile up. Five minutes to glance at your emails at the end of the day to see if anything will change your day tomorrow in a big way. Five minutes to glance at your Friends and Family Birthday List to make sure you don’t miss an important one. Five minutes to glance at your Linked In profile and make sure it’s up to date. Five minutes to glance at your notes before walking into a meeting or taking a call. It goes on and on! You see my point.
Suggestion: The next time you’re getting organized for your day or taking a quick break from your A priority tasks and meetings, take a glance at your desk and see if there might be one or two items that are calling out to you for just five minutes of your attention. You might just discover that you’re extremely glad you did!
©2019 Marie Moran