How to make every minute meaningful

If you are not spending your time improving, then you are just losing time.

So, spend your time on the things that matter.

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The frustrations of wasted time

Whether it is working in a business, teaching in a classroom or even being at home; every minute should be meaningful. We all know what it feels like to be sitting in an ineffective meeting. Your mind is constantly drifting off to your endless list of jobs to complete and all that the meeting does is cause more stress and anxiety.

Staff wellbeing is one of the key indicators of how successful an organisation truly is. However, too often we see leaders thinking that what needs to happen is we need to run a “team bonding” session! Or giving out presents! Or staff drinks! While all of these can add short-term satisfaction if employees still feel like they do not have enough time to complete their tasks, it could end up being detrimental to your hip-pockets and

4 Ways to Make Every Minute Matter

1. Start off slow:

In this era of digital connectedness, we feel pressured to go at a million miles an hour because there is so much to get done. However, we need to start off slow and focus on ensuring everyone in the organisation knows what matters. Know what your philosophy and mission is. What are the goals and how will success be measured? Then, leaders need to demonstrate what this looks like on a day-to-day basis. Give staff a clear understanding of what the expectations are and what their role is. Once this is clear, as long as the right people are in the right roles, trust needs to be placed upon them.

There needs to be a learning period. Allow them to make mistakes, but keep them accountable. It’s like when building a house if you do not lay the foundations down properly, eventually, cracks will appear and it could even lead to the whole place falling down!

The foundations should be simple, yet when done right it can keep your house stable forever! In the workplace, this could mean starting the year off with non-face-to-face days (i.e. not open for business) that are focused on internal learning and development. Or if you are a strongly established organisation, creating a buddy/mentoring system to ensure that your principles are being followed. In the classroom, it means not focusing on the content at the start, but rather setting up your learning environment.

2. Know what matters:

There will be times where you can feel overwhelmed with how much needs to be done in a short period of time and can end up trying to multitask. This leads to making mistakes or even worse procrastinating and not doing anything. If you know what matters, prioritising becomes simpler because there is always a focus. So, keep going back to your goals and they are what matters.

For example in a school, you could be marking a stack of exams and lose track of time. Then, the bell goes. You end up rushing to class without any idea of what you are going to teach. Of course, nothing really goes wrong because you’re awesome! But, deep down you know that your students didn’t get the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.

Another common one is the misuse of the start of the day. This is an opportunity to check-in and help them develop a greater sense of belonging. Encourage relationship building within the group as well as with the teacher. Sometimes teachers can get caught up in following the rules and forget that for many kids it can be a battle just to get to school. Or how our staff also have lives outside of work. The connection for staff and students towards their school is vital in order for the learning magic to happen!

3. Be more effective

Don’t be satisfied with continuing to do things a certain way just because that is how it has been done in the past. Are there parts of a process that could be automated or taken away? Go back to the previous point about knowing what matters. In your team, is there a way of collaborating or delegating to ensure you are able to make the most of everyone’s strengths?

For example, if Michael is really great at programming and Susan is terrific at assessing, why not allow them to do the things they are better at? I know that in many workplaces we get caught up in trying to be “fair”. However, if everyone is focused on doing whatever is best for the kids, then it shouldn’t matter what job each individual is doing as long as the end outcome is the most effective one.

Another example is if you have a meeting scheduled, work out what the purpose of the meeting is. Could the information be sent through as an e-mail? Are you getting staff members to sit in a staff meeting just because it was scheduled? What do you want people to gain and is it linked to your end goal? If you are looking to implement a new program, make sure that there is a plan in place to ensure that it is followed through. Organisations regularly get caught up in the latest trends and rush to join the movement without any evidence to support its use.

4. To have a good time, have downtime

If you are constantly stressed, tired and thinking about work; you are no good to anyone. Your work will lack effectiveness due to your inability to focus and your friends and family won’t like you because you will be snappy and not “present”. Make sure that when you are with friends and family, you aren’t just a warm body, but rather fully engaged in the moment. Also, plan time for yourself, but make it meaningful. Do you need to relax and unwind? Or refocus?

Sleep is also when your learning is solidified. Many entrepreneurs and CEOs around the world are fierce advocates for meditation and it’s ability to bring calmness and clarity to their thinking. I am someone that struggles to put a halt to my thinking, but use exercise as a way of getting away from the noise. There are strong links between exercise giving your brain special boosting powers.

What to do with all your extra time???

Spend it helping others. However, not just anyone. Weigh out whether the benefit to those you are helping will add long term value towards your goal. For example, if you assist another team member and help them become more effective, it will have a flow-on effect to the whole organisation. In a perfect world, we would be able to help everyone! Unfortunately, we have time constraints and this also highlights the need to have clear roles and expectations. This way, you are able to point people in the right direction.

I feel that these points can be applied to any organisation. However, I am like you, constantly learning. I understand having an ego and a fixed-mindset doesn’t help. I am forever tinkering with my processes and hope to help more people than I hinder! Feel free to challenge me on my thoughts and opinions as I appreciate different points of view and am always looking to improve.

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