We have so many things to do nowadays and so little time that we usually feel anxious and overwhelmed. We see people who are able to balance all the aspects of their life with ease, be it work, family, friends, sports, or hobbies. “How do they do it?”, we may ask ourselves. The fact is that these people have the exact same time that we do: 24 hours a day. So here you have some practical tips to help you make the most of that time in the extremely fast-paced profession of hospitality.
1. Invest time in planning
When we have a really busy day, it may seem counterintuitive to “waste” more time into something like planning what we are going to do (as if we don’t have enough things to do already); however, investing some time to set goals and schedule our tasks is a great way to improve our focus, avoid procrastination, and channel our efforts to do the things that are really important. Speaking of which…
2. Distinguish between important and urgent tasks
Our days are usually filled with distractions: phone calls, emails, chores, etc. We usually and automatically “react” and try to complete these tasks because they present themselves in front of us, demanding our attention. That is why we rarely take the time to evaluate if these tasks are really important, or if they just seem like they are; and we should evaluate these, since they are taking time and energy that we could be investing in what really matters.
Analyzing all the things that we do every day and distinguishing between things that are really important and things that we do just because we “feel like we have to” will help us prioritize, reject and/or delegate tasks that are not really important for us, and focus on doing the things that really count.
3. Detect your bad habits
We all have habits that prevent us from using our time as effectively as we could: constantly checking our phone, e-mail or social media accounts, taking too many breaks to have a smoke, occupying our time with menial tasks to avoid taking on that important thing that we have been postponing, etc.
The thing about these habits is that they become kind of automatic: we engage in them without consciously thinking about it. That is why we call them “habits”. The first step to break these automatic actions is to identify them, either by ourselves or by asking someone to help us; by doing so, we give ourselves the possibility to do something to correct them and make a better use of our available time.
4. Manage your energy
Our energy levels vary during the day: there are hours in which we are more active and energized, while at other times we feel tired and even sleepy. By identifying the hours in which our energy peaks and assigning our more demanding tasks to these time slots whenever possible, we make sure that we are going to be in our best shape to take on said tasks. And speaking about managing our energy…
5. Schedule short breaks
Have you ever felt that, despite putting lots of time and effort in a task, you do not seem to make significant advances? If you have, you do not have to worry: it means that you are a normal person.
As humans, we have a limited capacity to concentrate: the longer we focus on a task, the more fatigued and ineffective we become. When we reach that point, instead of pushing ourselves to finish the task, we should try taking some minutes to stretch, take a short walk, or have a chat with a colleague. It may look like a waste of time, but these breaks have a huge benefit: they shift our attention to something else and help us to take a little rest and refresh, so when we come back to the task, we will tackle it with renewed energies and higher effectiveness.
Why do I propose scheduling these breaks? So we do not forget about taking them. It would be a great idea to schedule a 5-10 minutes break every hour and a half, for example, to help us recharge. The ideal frequency and duration of these breaks will depend largely on the person, so the best way to proceed is to experiment until we find our own balance.
6. Always carry a notebook
Always carry a notebook or a tablet. Or a notes app running on a smartphone. The thing is to have some place in which to write things down, from tasks that we just remembered we have to do, to ideas that we want to develop.
Doing this has two benefits: one of them is that we will not forget these tasks or ideas because they are written on paper (while things that you do not write can easily fall into oblivion), and the other advantage is that, once this task or idea is written down, we can schedule the time that we are going to dedicate to it and go back, completely focused, to whatever we were doing. And speaking of that…
7. Be present and focus
We live in the age of multitasking: we view people who seem capable of doing several things at the same time as the peak of human productivity. However, as scientific research about the matter has shown, multitasking makes us less productive: constantly switching our attention between tasks actually takes more time and increases the number of errors.
So, how can we be productive when we have so many things to do?
Actually, giving our full attention to one task at a time will help us perform it better and in a shorter time; once we finish, focus completely on another task, and do the same with all of the items on our to-do list. We will see how our productivity raises and the quality of our work improves.
Also, I would advise that we always be present, whatever we are doing at the moment: if we are working, put all of our attention on the task at hand; if we are with your family, give them our full attention as well. Focusing on the present, whatever we are doing, is one of the best ways of using our time effectively and wisely.
I hope that these tips will help you to make better use of your time and lead you to accomplish all of your goals and dreams, both in your personal and professional life. Time is one of the most valuable goods that we have, and knowing how to invest it is one of the keys to lead the life we really want to live.