We all live hectic lives but amid the hustle and bustle of this life and our jobs, it is critical to take time off. We need to step back sometimes and evaluate our lives. Burnout has been identified as a disease by the World Health Organization and more and more people today are burning out and are living half their lives.
Considering our long working hours and the non-existent boundaries between work and home life, it is easy to see why so many people become deflated and burnout.
In the gospel of Mark chapter 6 and verses31-32 Jesus tells his disciples that they should “come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” This was at a time when more and more people were starting to follow Jesus and the disciples were so busy trying to deal with the crowds that they did not even have time to have a decent meal. If Jesus knew that his disciples needed a “time out,” do you not think that all of us also need to take a break once in a while?
You may have passed a pasture or even had the privilege of being on a ranch or farm and noticed the cows lying in the shade lazily moving their jaws from side to side as if chewing on something. They are in fact chewing their cud. Chewing the cud is a very important function for a cow.
Cows can easily spend up to 8 hours a day chewing their cuds. It can be said that a content cow is one who is seen chewing her cud. When cows chew their cuds, they secrete saliva that contains a natural antacid which acts as a buffer for the rumen which is the first compartment of the stomach. Proper buffering of the rumen allows a cow to digest what they have foraged better and to eat more feed which helps produce more milk.
When a cow chews her cud, she is regurgitating a bolus of food into her mouth which she rechews and re-swallows. The proper and correct feed needs to be fed to dairy cows and heifers for optimal production of salvia.
Cud chewing is often an indicator of the health of a dairy herd, because cows who do not chew their cuds enough may have lowered milk fat tests, may become lame, or have other digestive upsets such as twisted stomachs or displaced abomasum (the fourth stomach).
If you have had the privilege to observe these cows, you may have noticed that they forage and graze in the early morning when it is cool and then during the hotter time of the day they seek out the shade to chew the cud.
Here are strategies that can help you and your organization or team utilize your time better:
Evaluate and schedule your time – A friend of mine once commented that he starts his day by determining which are high- or low-income activities. Some of the most common causes of lost revenue is that we spend too much time non-work-related tasks. We need to take a break and spend time on personal or social activities, but this should not be detrimental to our productivity to the point that they cannot focus on the work at hand. You must identify how you and your employees are spending your time and minimize the activities that hamper your productivity and delay achieving of goals.
Plan an organized and efficient work schedule based on specific preferences and objectives. When you know where and what amount of time you need to spend on a task or activity, proper planning will boost your performance. You can plan learning sessions and set work priorities for upcoming days, weeks, and even months to ensure this. Keeping track of future work will help you schedule your time better which in turn will provide sufficient time so that every task gets completed on or before time.
Take regular time-outs - Francesco Cirillo coined the Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s. As Cirillo was struggling to concentrate on his studies and complete the assignments, he promised himself that he would be committed to 10 minutes of focused study time, then take a break of a few minutes and start again. He used a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) shaped kitchen timer to work as he planned, coining the term Pomodoro technique.
You can easily use this technique set time-outs. As an example, you could work for 25-minutes and then take a five-minute break. These time breaks are known to reset your brain and bring your attention back to what’s pending. You can have a longer break of about 15-20 minutes after every four time-outs.
This was a technique I used very successfully while I was studying. Most of my degrees were done part-time while I was working a full-time job which meant I had to study at night. I used to study for 50minutes and then take a 10-minute break. During the break I usually did something that was totally contrary to what I was studying. For example, if I was studying finance, during my break I would watch part of a TV programme that had nothing to do with finance. It was amazing how refreshed I was after the break and able to again fully concentrate in the work at hand.
Prioritize your activities – Anyone I ask automatically tells me this when I ask about managing time effectively but so few actually do it. I still have a practice of writing everything down on a to-do list and then numbering the activities in order of priority. It ensures that it is easier for me to structure my day and keep track of my time.
To take this a step further you could also follow the additional steps:
· Create a to-do list of all your tasks.
· Estimate how much time each task will take to complete.
· Add some time as a buffer. Like 20% to solve any issues and 20% to take a break.
· Set the priority of your tasks, e.g., if a task can be done on another day or can be assigned to a colleague.
· Check back on tasks that you have already completed. Identify areas of improvement or what went wrong to improve it.
If you set ambiguous and unrealistic goals without a set deadline, you’ll not only sabotage your chances of success but also be demotivated. Working within time limits and adding up a buffer will help you stay motivated to work on a task. This same method could also be used effectively for your entire team or organization.
Be flexible - Research have shown that human efficiency drops by up to 40% when working on more than on task at a time. Because of COVID-19,people are trying to juggle between home and office work which means that, at any given time, they are often unable to focus on one task entirely. This has an adverse effect on productivity and mental wellbeing as well. Therefore, providing more freedom in terms of organizing your time can be extremely vital. Flexibility around work timing is one of the valuable aspects that anyone can have, whether in a remote or a hybrid setup.
Use Time Management Tools - An Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled time tracking system will create a transformative approach to improving employee experience and efficiency. There is a wide range of time management tools that can help you.
An automated and intelligent time management tool allows you to allocate tasks to your teams based on their skills and availability. This tool will also give real-time inputs about each employee, project, team, etc., in your organization. It will also provide information about the task deadlines and possible completion times. With all this data at your disposal, you can plan their projects well ahead of time and achieve success.
Just like money, time is both precious and limited. The difference however is that you can always make more money, but you only have 24hours each day and when it is gone you cannot make more. There’s no question that managing a remote or hybrid new-age workforce can be challenging, but if you adapt the way you and your team operate and accommodate both remote employees and those returning to the workplace, it will become increasingly crucial that you build your strategies keeping your team in mind.
The benefits of effective time management include greater visibility, agility, and flexibility. When you are clear on how best to use time, you can help your employees become more focused and productive. Effective time management simplifies your goals and prioritizes your most important tasks, so you have more time to achieve bigger and better results.
There is a saying that says“ procrastination is the thief of all time” which indicates how you can miss your deadlines if you are prone to procrastination. Procrastination has been discussed in detail elsewhere in this manual.
Indecision is also a time thief as it makes you spend unnecessary time trying to decide on a course of action in the time the action could have been carried out. As mentioned in the section on decision making, it is important to take the decision and stick with the decision. In this way you will waste less time and your team will also have the necessary direction they need.
If we lose the balance and become overworked, our judgement becomes dulled, and we make irrational decisions and even unnecessary mistakes. We feel that we cannot afford to take time off because we have to fulfill all our commitments, but in fact we cannot afford not to take time off. It is no good being a “mover and a shaker” for years only to burn yourself out and not be able to do your job or take care of your family properly.