From the Roman poet Horace’s famous phrase, Carpe Diem, to the modern concepts of Work-Life balance time is our most precious resource. People have been looking for ways to better manage their time for as long as time has been measured. Despite the myriad of technological advances, the constant influx of information in our brave new digital world leaves us as pressed for time as ever. And as the lines between work and home have blurred, time stressors have become the most common and insidious of all job stress factors. In fact, significant correlation exists between time stress and job dissatisfaction, tension, perceived threat, and other factors. For Talent Acquisition professionals, with our need for rapid, consistent multi-channel communications, the problems are even worse.
So, what can we do about it?
If you were looking for a silver bullet, I’m sorry to disappoint you there isn’t one. Hiring Managers, Supervisors and Candidates are likely to demand more of your time than you have available to give. And your inbox is going to continue to fill up like a vampire at a blood bank. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do.
You’ll have to begin with a little introspection. What’s really important to you? What are you prepared to sacrifice to get it? This will help you determine how you should be spending your time. Presumably, at least some portion of that will be allocated to work, either as a direct facilitator of joy, or a means to an end. Now look at your work and repeat the exercise. We often spend our time based on habit, or in avoidance of difficult or unpleasant tasks. If we don’t take the time to determine what really matters in our lives and our careers, any attempt to manage our time cannot be properly directed to the desired outcomes.
Once you have determined your priorities, you can begin to dig in to using your time effectively. Effective time management means being able to distinguish between what is important, and what is merely urgent. The US Forest Service created the Smokey Bear advertising campaign emphasizing the important issue of wildfire prevention, rather than simply allocating that funding to the urgent business of fighting fires. Next, consciously seek to apply your time and effort to important matters, not just urgent ones. Will revising your applicant flow in your ATS or responding to an email on a candidate’s status yield you greater long-term results? Effective time management means that you must know your desired outcomes and focus on achievement rather than methods. Best of all, effective time management, along with well thought out priorities empowers you to say “no” when others would place unnecessary demands on your time.
If you can manage your time effectively, you can begin to layer in efficiency. Efficient time management is more about eliminating inefficiency than anything else. For example, people tend to do things they like to do, before things they don’t like to do, even if accomplishing the unpleasant task first will make all subsequent tasks easier. Once you are managing time effectively, you can begin to optimize for efficiency.