In order to be effective with your visibility efforts, it’s imperative that you manage your time well.
One of the greatest influences on our time in the 21st century is managing the information flow in our lives.
It’s very easy to fall into a situation where you’re being bombarded 24/7 with information and feel like you don’t have any control over the situation. And it’s easy to become addicted to the flow of information, to the feeling of being occupied, to the variety and shiny objects that are such effective short term distractions.
Which means that even though information is easy to turn on and off, often we find ourselves compelled to stay and watch and engage.
The key to wrestling back your time is to remind yourself – as often as you need to – that you are at choice.
And in those moments where you feel ready to exercise that choice, here’s a great place to start pairing back any time sucking information sources:
Consider how you feel when you’re engaged with various forms of information.
It’s imperative that you determine what is nourishing and enhancing your life and what is depleting it in some way.
When we’re free of the emotional and mental causes of information addiction, we can eradicate that which isn’t serving us and choose differently in the future, from a place of wholeness.
I recently listened to an interview with Brendan Burchard where he said that the inbox is nothing but a convenient organising system for other people’s agendas. I would add to this statement the telephone, text messages, and electronic messages which arrive via any form of social media.
When you think about your phone, and any other message collecting system in this way, you realise that if you truly value your own time, it’s important to start being proactive in managing your response to the information flow.
Here are some tips to help you along.
Batching and inbox zero are two approaches that have helped me in the management of emails.
Batching involves grouping and processing your emails at a particular time of the day. Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek states that he processes his emails only once a week. I haven’t managed that as yet, but I do try for 1 or 2 half hour slots each day. When the time is up, what is not addressed is simply left for another day.
My friend Sue White also put me onto inbox zero which I’ve adopted in part. The real benefit I’ve uncovered is that by sending emails automatically to particular files (i.e., I don’t see them before they are filed), I am then free to deal with things in my own time rather than in the random order that they arrive into my email system. So I use some of the principles of inbox zero to better manage the flow of information that comes into my inbox.
Action you may wish to take: start batching your emails and/or familiarise yourself with inbox zero and take an hour or so to set it up (an hour which you’ll easily make back in your first week of managing your email in this way).
Selective television viewing is an activity I’ve been engaged in for years now.
When I was at university I had very little time to watch television and this got me into a habit which has served me well ever since. At the beginning of the week, I’d scan the television program, decide on the 2 or 3 shows that I wanted to watch and then as the week progressed, I’d turn on the television to watch those and only those i.e., I’d turn the television off when the program finished.
This became such an entrenched way of being that when I left university, I continued to behave in this manner and subsequently, never become a ‘channel surfer’.
Action you may wish to take: decide on certain days of the week for television viewing or certain programs. When you’re streaming TV it’s so easy to ‘just watch one more episode’ so consider rewarding yourself when you turn off the tv. (Think of a treat you can only benefit from once you’ve finished watching tv.)
Cutting out unfulfilling social media and determining my ideal return on investment with the remaining media gave me back hours of time and minimised anxiety in my life.
Social media can be an incredible time thief. So in addition to all the usual actions you can take to make your social media time more effective – batching, scheduling (we use Planoly for that), delegating some of your social tasks – also take some time to consider which ones actually make you feel good.
When I started my business I read lots of advice about engaging in all sorts of social media. I tried a bunch of different forms to see what worked for me – what felt natural and rewarding – and now I engage in Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I approach them in the same way I approach television – I engage for a specified period of time and no more, each week. If I engage in it for longer, it stops being enjoyable and starts creating anxiety.
Through trial and error I’ve discovered my ideal return on investment and I stick with it.
Action you may wish to take: Consider which forms of social media are fulfilling for you. Delete your account with those which are not enhancing your life or your business. (Remember; if you’re engaging with it because you think you ‘should’ but it doesn’t feel good, it’s never going to give you the returns you’d like.) Then determine your ideal return on investment for each form of social media and limit your engagement to that.
I gave up following the news over 10 years ago and honestly I’ve not missed it since. I did it for a simple reason – it didn’t make me feel good. In fact, it made me feel horrible. It was either upsetting or irritating and didn’t enhance my life at all.
At the time I was working in government and so it was important to be aware of what was going on in the world and yet I found that whenever anything really significant and relevant to my job occurred, I would inevitably be told about it. Although my role often required a response to events in the media, it didn’t matter whether I was first or third or fifth person in the office to know that something had happened, and so I allowed the media and communications people to take responsibility for keeping abreast of world events while I stayed focused on my core responsibilities. Such an approach enabled me to dip in and out of the media as and when it was needed. The rest of the time, I stayed blissfully ignorant of things which had nothing whatsoever to do with me.
Action you may wish to take: determine the bare minimum amount of news you need to do your job well and cut out all the rest.
Some people might perceive this as controversial but I don’t believe that you actually need to respond to every phone call or sms the minute the phone rings or the text arrives.
Of course there are urgent calls and of course the telephone is a useful means of communication. But you run your life. If a call comes in at a time that’s inconvenient for you, if you’re in the middle of dinner or you’re tired and having a rest or if you are working and in a flow which would be disadvantageous to interrupt, don’t answer your phone.
Voice message was created for a reason. The message will still be there in an hour or at the time that it is convenient for you to respond.
Action you may wish to take: choose times to make phone calls and batch them the way you batch emails. I schedule calls and respond to messages at specified times in the day and week. This ensures efficiency and keeps me in flow the rest of the time so that I might be fully present with the activity at hand, be it writing blog posts or playing with my daughter.
Jumping to respond to every phone call, sms, or email which comes your way will scramble your brain. It will create a life where you’re in a constant state of reactivity and will guarantee inefficiency. It will be almost impossible to maintain momentum with your own work or creative endeavours and it will most certainly rob you of valuable time with your loved ones.
A life without meaning is one which is busy for no reason.
When you value your time, you manage it in a way that works best for you.
Managing the information that flows into your daily life is integral to that.
When you value your time, you say to yourself and to the world; ‘I value me. I value the contribution I have to bring to the world and I choose not to be derailed in my attempts to nurture that contribution.’
And from a visibility perspective, there’s nothing more magnetic than that.