As a member of Gen Y, you have some advantages when it comes to time management, such as quickly understanding new technology and thriving in quickly changing work environments. But sometimes your natural strengths can keep you from having the best time investment when you transition from college to career. As a time coach, I've seen that Gen Y can benefit from these three tips:
1. Set the Pace, Instead of Letting Technology Set it For You
Just because someone sent you an e-mail or text, doesn't mean that you have to respond right away. It's essential that you set the pace of your workday so you can get important -- not just urgent -- items done. For example:
- Block out "communication free" times when you want to focus on a big project. This could include turning off your phone and going to a location without Wi-Fi access.
- Set the expectation that you will respond to e-mails in about 24 hours so people don't get used to an instant response.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media or avoid it completely at work so can stay focused.
Given the connectedness in our world, it's tempting to think that flexible hours and work locations will give you the optimal level of productivity. However for many people it doesn't, and you could actually accomplish more and feel less stressed if you had more structure to your day. To find out what's best for you, try out these strategies:
- Notice if you get more done and then have more fun (without guilt) outside of work if you set standard hours instead of having them vary from day-to-day.
- Observe whether or not you increase your productivity by being at an office or away from it. Where do you feel the most motivation?
- Pay attention to the type of activities you need to get done and the location and time that best suits them. For example, you may find that doing day-to-day items is best during the morning and early afternoon in the office. But then if you need to write a report or work on a complex problem, that you should head over to a coffee shop or the library in the late afternoon.
Gen Y tends to have a more relative sense of time such as perceiving arriving five or even 15 minutes after the posted meeting time as still "on time," while other generations often believe that you should arrive at 3:55 PM for a 4 PM meeting. Of course a particular sense of timeliness can vary from person to person. But these tips can help you to show respect for your co-workers and thrive in your work environment:
- Pay attention to the company meeting norms. Does everyone arrive five minutes early or do the meetings tend to start late? Then try to match your behavior to your environment. It makes you look professional and dependable.
- Be observant of the expectations around deadlines. Does a due date of Tuesday mean that you have it e-mailed to your boss by 9 AM, or that it needs to arrive some time before midnight? Sometimes deadlines don't matter as much and other times they're extremely important. Get clear on the expectations and try to work within them.
- Respect the pace of decision-making and action. Sometimes, it's tempting to get impatient when you feel like everything is moving slowly and you don't understand why you need to do more research before moving forward. Instead of feeling frustrated and perceiving other generations' requests as attempts to thwart your plans, respect the fact that they have more experience than you do that may make them aware of potential issues you've never faced.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman