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Time management: Distraction vs discipline

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When you study technology for a period, you notice an interesting trend: Even though each new development is in itself time-saving, people tend to be busier and busier, from one generation to the next.

That has been an interesting by-product of the digital age. On the surface, having information available at our fingertips on a continual basis should make everything easier, faster and more efficient.

Mostly, it does. However, we, as people, are also expected to do and be more – as people – than at any other point in history. That has true personally and professionally, where individuals now handle jobs that were once split up among multiple professionals (or even firms), and the wide range of leisure and recreation time allows us to fill evenings and weekends with activities.

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It would seem that more time is making us more productive, but also accentuating the need for better time management and decision making.

With that in mind, I would like to offer seven simple but effective time-management tips you can use to get more from every minute you spend online:

  1. Remember what is important

If you don’t know what your most important goals and priorities are, then it is hard to know how to spend your time efficiently. This matters more than you might think, especially when it is so easy to spend time on social media sites, read industry news, or just kill an hour playing your favourite Facebook game. If it truly is not important, or if it does not allow you to take a break from the pressures of real life, make time for something else that is.

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  1. Get more organised

Spending time looking at the same document or email again and again is a waste; devise a filing and bookmark system that is consistent throughout all your devices so that you’ll always be able to reach and access details exactly when you need them.

  1. Take a trip to Ohio

If you do not know already, OHIO stands for ‘Only Handle It Once’. Everything that comes into your inbox should be tasked, tossed, transferred to someone else or tended to as needed.

That means nothing should ever be put off to be dealt with at some unspecified time in the future – that is how regret, procrastination, and missed opportunities creep into our lives.

  1. Learn to scan info

You do not have to be a speed-reader to understand that it is important to scan some long documents and pay closer line-by-line attention to others. The fact is that most of us get more information and detail than we could realistically deal with on any given day. Get good at scanning items, making notes of a few important points, and then moving on.

  1. Focus your energy where it matters

Some priorities will be given to you by an employer (or even by customers). Others you will determine for yourself. Either way, spend your time online working towards the goals and priorities that actually matter.

Otherwise, you will easily find yourself clicking from one thing to the next simply for fun. There is nothing wrong with that in very small doses, but it isn’t a great way to enhance your life or career.

  1. Remember that educational time is not wasted

Here is one thing a lot of busy professionals tend to overlook: When you spend time learning to use an app, or develop a new skill, you may be taking a little bit from your schedule now, but you are also giving yourself many more minutes back later.

That little extra time it takes to get something right in the short term is well worth it—when you figure what will be saved or gained in the long run.

  1. Don’t always be online

Unless you are crucial to the security of the free world (in which case I hope you are doing something more important than reading this article), you do not need to be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In fact, always being online numbs you to all of the information you could otherwise be absorbing. So, learn to step away and take some time off; it might feel like a guilty pleasure, but you’ll be doing the right thing for yourself and your company in the long run.

Time Management Tips for the Digital Age published by Randy Milanovic on Social Media Today (Excepts)

I rest my case.

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