“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The American author’s words have a universal gravitas to them. How often do you hear the refrain: “This year has just flown by!”
In a lot of ways, time seems to move more quickly today than it did 100 years ago. That’s based not on the clock hand making its circuit more rapidly, but on the fact that we are expected to get more done.
The tools at our disposal mean we complete more projects more quickly and accurately. We cover more distance and communicate with more people. At the same time our days are more frantic and more filled: we are under pressure to “achieve” more at the end of every day.
But the same tools that increase our productivity can also chisel away at it. Before you know it, you’ve spent 30 minutes time-wasting on social media. Or, you’ve had a two hour whatsapp conversation that could have taken half the time if you’d just picked up the phone and called the person.
With that unique modern ambiguity in mind, here are five tips that can ensure finance professionals they’re using their moments productively.
Finance professional time-saver tip 1: Start working within five minutes of turning on your computer. It’s amazing how quickly time can get away from you when you’re ‘settling down’. Clicking on that youtube link your colleague sent you could lead to spending 45 minutes watching ‘hilarious dog videos’. Or, your morning trip to the office coffee area could result in a lengthy gossip session with a colleague.
Finance professional time-saver tip 2: Create an ‘turn off’ period: Every day (if possible) create a block of time when you go ‘off the grid’. During this time, close your email and switch off your cell phone. Watch your productivity soar!
Finance professional time-saver tip 3: Conduct a ‘time audit’ for one week. As a finance professional, auditing should be right up your alley. Spend a week keeping track of where your time is going. Pinpoint where you’re spending time on a regular day. Notice where you’re spending time over the weekend. Adjust your schedule accordingly.
Finance professional time-saver tip 4: Apply the 50% rule. Jo Mathews writes in the Entrepreneur magazine: “Plan to spend at least 50% of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results.” So, take some time out at the beginning of your day to decipher where your big ‘returns’ will be. Plan your time accordingly.
Finance professional time-saver tip 5: Mini-breaks. Yes, we’re suggesting that in order to save time during the day, you must ensure that you take enough breaks. A mindful five- or ten-minute break every 90 minutes will keep you focused and productive for longer than a several-hour slog.
And if you’re despairing of the fact that there simply aren’t enough hours in a finance professional’s day, we’d like to pass on some sage advice.
“The good news is that real time is mental. It exists between your ears,” says Mathews. “You create it. Anything you create, you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around ‘not having enough time,’ or today not being ‘the right time’ to start a business or manage your current business properly.
“There are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions,” says Mathews. “While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you do get a say on how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on the thoughts, conversations and actions that will lead you to success.”