Learn 3 ways to manage your work day more efficiently in this tutorial by Jeremy Osborn, Academic Director at Aquent Gymnasium.
Work meetings. Writing emails. Calendar management — with remote working and virtual teams becoming more and more popular, these everyday work tasks seem to be taking up more and more of our time. This study by McKinsey states that, “the average professional spends 28% of the work week reading and answering email.” Workplace messaging systems such as Slack claim to reduce the amount of time workers spend on email, which is probably true. But these systems don’t necessarily reduce interruptions or distractions, and in some cases, can even increase them.
So — sorry. Hold on… (A Slack message is sent from a co-worker saying, “Hey Jeremy — did you finish the TPS reports?” Jeremy replies back, “No”.) Yeah, I read the memo. Sorry about that.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you three practical tips to save yourself precious time during the day. Not just with email, but by managing your work calendar and scheduling meetings as well. Tip Number 1: Reduce email repetition with templates. How many times have you found yourself writing an email that you swear you’ve written a dozen times before?
Most email programs have a template feature to solve this problem. But in Gmail, for example, it’s not turned on by default and you have to know where to find it. So imagine you have a sample email you’d like to save as a template. Click on the Gear icon, choose Settings, and then click on Advanced. Locate the Templates feature, select Enable and be sure to save.
Back in your email draft, click on the More Options icon in the bottom right, and choose Templates from the menu, and then Save draft as template. And then finally Save as new template. Give this a good name and then click OK (Save).
Now, in the future, whenever you’re composing an email and want to use a template, click that More Options button, choose Templates > Insert Template, and then pick the template you want and modify it.
Tip Number 2: Control your calendar. I borrowed this tip from our free course, Defeating Busy by Brett Harnett, which you should check out if you’re interested in more time management strategies. And the basic idea is that if an activity is important to you, it should always be added to your calendar.
And this might sound really obvious, but let me just explain. Activities such as socializing with friends or checking personal email or social media are often seen as distractions. But if they’re important to you, then they’re important, especially for remote workers.
So the trick here is to actively add this time to your calendar in the same way you would do for a formal meeting. Now, you might want to be a little conscious of how you label the event. But ultimately, by scheduling your personal time you get to control it. Furthermore, these moments in your day now become events to look forward to, as well as a way to define some boundaries to help you get back to work.
Tip Number 3: Organize your meetings more efficiently. Scheduling meetings with multiple people can be super painful, especially when they’re outside your organization or network. Finding that sweet spot where everyone can be available often takes days of emailing back and forth, and back and forth.
One way to solve this is with a service called Doodle. Now, I should mention right off the bat that there’s a lot of other similar services out there. I have no connection with them. It’s just one of used for many years. Also, they really want you to sign up for a paid plan, but at the time of this recording, you can do everything you need to for free without even having to sign up for an account.
Here’s how it works. As the ringleader for the meeting, you create what’s called a Doodle poll. You give it a title, let’s say, Secret Project and in Location — let’s choose Conference Call — and then Add a Note. Click Next, and now you’re going to want to add all the times that you’re available. So add eight or nine slots here, and then click Continue.
And the next screen shows a number of advanced settings and these are all optional. So just click Continue, and then finally put in your own name and email.
On the next screen, you’ll see a link to the poll, and we’re going to return to that in just a second. But first, scroll down, you’ll see a table with your name, and all the dates and times lined up in a row, which you can select if you want.
Now go back to the top, copy this link, and send it to everyone you’re inviting. Now, here’s a quick look at what this looks like to someone who receives the invite. All they have to do is fill out the days and times that work for them.
But let’s fast forward 24 hours later. And you’ve sent it to all four other people and they have all responded. What you’re looking for is at least one column, which has check marks all the way down. In my case, there’s only one, so it’s pretty obvious. However, if there’s multiple options, it’s up to you to choose the final one, and at that point you could make it official, and schedule the meeting using that date and time.