Time management and being effective at work

Time management and being effective at work

Recruitment, as we all know, is a challenging job. Whether you’re on back to back calls sourcing for an important role, or you have a sea of admin to work through, organisation is key to running a successful recruitment desk.

But, time management and effectively using the (often limited) time we have at work is rarely spoken about in our industry, and we want to change that!

We recently ran a couple of sessions around the topics of time management and effectiveness at work, and I want to share some learnings with you so you can take control of your working day, get organised, and achieve optimal results.

If you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day… same! From calls to meetings, to zooms, to business development, a job as a recruiter is more than just filling a job, it’s in essence, running a business within a business.

The first session we ran was with Eden Whitcomb, who got to the crux of effective planning and planning with intent.

Daily, monthly, and yearly planning (with a purpose)

Something that people often get wrong with goal setting is, ironically, setting goals for the sake of it.

It’s easy to write down that you want to be able to afford a mortgage in 12 months, or take a holiday to Italy with your significant other. Although these are both great goals, they have no intent or plan behind them.

Eden emphasised the importance of breaking down your goals (whether they are daily, monthly, or yearly) into tangible deliverables that are achievable based on the actions you do every day. This moves your goal setting away from being shallow, and instead, gives you a route to your desired outcome.

How can you start doing this?

A great way to start planning with intent is choosing three to five big goals and then breaking them down into monthly actions first.

Let’s say for example you’d like to save £25,000 in 12 months, so you can put a deposit down on a house.

Figure out how much you would need to save each month to achieve this.

Once you have the monthly number, start breaking it down into how many deals that equate to in a month.

Then, break down how many deals that would need to look like in a week.

At this point, you can start to get really granular with activities you need to do each day to achieve that weekly goal.

It could be 10 client meetings a month. It could be 15 business development calls a day. Find out what that yearly goal looks like in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly actions – and then you have intent behind each goal you’ve put down!

A great way to record this is by using a spreadsheet either on Word or Google Sheets that you can revisit each day to hold yourself accountable.

Start chunking and training yourself to do deep work

Another crucial element of staying organised is chunking, which Eden spoke about in-depth in his session.

Chunking is the activity of focussing on one task over a specific period of time, for example, sourcing for a role or answering emails. Deep work is directly related to chunking, but focuses on you having no distractions and completing a volume of work whilst chunking.

This is an incredibly effective way to manage your time whilst also being prompting terms of the quality of work that you’re doing. A great resource to help with this is a book called Deep Work by Carl Newport.

How can you start doing this?

The first step is to get in tune with yourself and your energy levels. If you find that you have the most motivation and energy early in the morning, start chunking and doing deep work at that time, and that time only. Equally, if your energy spikes in the afternoon, use that as your deep work period.

When you first start doing this, focus on deep work for 15-20 minutes at a time with no distractions. Once you can do this effectively, up the time to 45 minutes, then an hour, and so on. Over time, you should get yourself into a headspace where you could potentially do deep work for one to two hours with no distractions.

It’s important to be kind to yourself and understand that achieving this is a marathon, not a sprint. Time yourself and train yourself to do better each week, and you’ll see a surge in productivity as well as being able to manage your time effectively. When you have less energy – focus on the less labour-intensive work then, instead of the other way around.

A deep work morning may look something like this if you work best earlier on in the day.

Time     Task
8:00am – 10:00am     DEEP WORK: Candidate management
10:00am – 10:15am     Short morning break
10:15am – 12:15 pm     DEEP WORK: All morning administration

Naturally, you can adapt this depending on your day plan, especially if you work better in the afternoons.

The next session on time management and being effective at work was delivered by Sally Spicer, who highlighted the importance of doing the hardest tasks first and giving yourself time to recognise when you know you’re being effective (and what you did to get to that point).

Eat the frog

If the idea of eating a frog fills you with dread, then you’ll know that this directly relates to the feeling you get when you have to do a task you’ve been putting off all day, or even all week.

Sally explains the importance of getting the “bad stuff” out of the way first, as this is the equivalent of ripping off the band-aid and giving you time to then focus on the things you enjoy doing. Again, the book Deep Work is a great resource to use here.

How can you start doing this?

The best way to “eat the frog” is by combining it with deep work and chunking. When you have the most energy, get the difficult tasks out of the way, then, when your energy levels are lower, or you have less time, you can do the less labour-intensive tasks.

We’ve spoken about the importance of setting goals with intent, making time to work out your optimum performance hours, eating the frog – and doing the hardest task first, here are some takeaway tips.

Most common tips.

  • Plan your day the day before, this is non-negotiable for top performers, and they will all do this. (If you build this one habit, your time management skills will massively improve)
  • Block out time in your diary to do admin. We can all get distracted by incoming emails and do tasks that could wait. Block time out each day for your admin tasks, so you know you will have time to do them, and only do them then.
  • Pomodoro technique, this is an approach used by a lot of people. Work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Repeat through the day. You can even use a tool like this for a timer – https://pomofocus.io/
  • Have a system that works for you to complete tasks, if it’s a to-do list, an outcome list, or using tools like https://todoist.com/ or https://trello.com/ have a system to complete tasks.
  • Always ensure you make time to reflect, if it’s weekly or monthly, you need to make space to reflect on your performance, what’s going well, not going so well, you want to make sure you’re spending time in the correct places. Every top performer will make time to reflect on their working week on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

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