Life Skills

Whether applying for a job or managing one’s career, there are constant pressures in the work environment toward unproductive and wasteful time-use.

When analyzed closely, a great deal of one’s day is spent on activities that do not contribute to the overall goal of either the individual or their company.

The problem is that while other resources are in abundance (i.e. money), time is scarce. No matter how high the demand, the supply will never rise; time is a unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource.

Time-use does improve with practice, but only constant efforts at managing time can prevent drifting. While yesterday’s time is gone forever, below you’ll find key exercise to ensure that you make the most of this scarce resource going forward.

1) In detail, define what you want to achieve:

Instead of “wanting to make more money” or “get a job in marketing,” strive to “make $60,000” or “obtain a digital marketing position in healthcare.”

When you spell out your goals in vivid detail, you begin to see what activities will get you to where you want to be and which serve little to no purpose.

2) Perform a time- diagnosis and keep track of hours and days real-time:

Prior to being able to manage time, you must possess a firm grasp on how your hours and days are used.

As opposed to going off sheer memory, the most efficient way to do so is to log where your days are going.

The problem with relying on memory is that psychological experiments have shown that human beings are naturally inept of estimating how much time has passed performing a certain activity.

Therefore, if we rely on our memory of the activities we’ve performed, we won’t get an accurate measurement of where our hours and days go.

3) Pinpoint and eliminate the activities that don’t need to be at all:

When examining your activity log, go down the list of daily functions you perform and ask yourself a key question, “What would happen if I didn’t engage in this activity?”

If the answer is “nothing,” you’ve just defined a time suck that no longer needs to be part of your daily routine.

4) Learn to delegate where possible:

Effective delegation can mitigate opportunity cost, relieve stress and allow you to focus on your strengths.

Unfortunately, lack of delegation is a problematic shortcoming of the majority of job seekers whom our recruiters deal with.

Over 70% of applicants our sales headhunters deal with spend up to 100+ hours writing, formatting and tweaking their resume when, in reality they could have a professional write the document for under $1,000.

Mathematically, unless they are making less than $10 per hour, it is time inefficient to write their own CV.

5) Don’t bounce from activity to activity, rather break your time into large chunks:

Studies have shown that to spend 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there on a project results in little being achieved.

When something needs to get done, the name of the game is to lock the office door, disconnect the internet, turn off the cell phone and sit down for 3+ hours without interruption.

In the End

Time is a costly thing to waste.  Learn to concentrate on what counts.  While the immature mind hops from one thought to another, never truly getting anything done, those who master concentration realize that time is an irretrievable resource that you can’t recoup.

About Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, a sales and marketing executive search firm based out of New York City. He is also a writer for Forbes. Follow Ken on Twitter @Ken_Sundheim.

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