How To Protect Your Time When You Return To Work

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Over the past year, the world has been consumed with the concept of protection. Talk of masks, hand-washing protocol, sanitizers, distance, and more have flooded our airwaves, feeds, and conversations as we did our best to protect ourselves and others. But as many of us reenter the world and reopen brick and mortar locations, we have to think about how to protect another precious resource: time.

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Tips To Protect Your Time

Here are a few time-protection strategies you can employ as you get back to your routine:

Allow for breathing room between meetings

Being able to enter a meeting with the click of a button has made an impact on how we schedule our time. Without a commute to consider—not even a walk down the hall or elevator ride—many of us have become accustomed to booking ourselves in back-to-back sessions, without a moment to breathe in between. That just won’t work in the in-person world. When you’re sitting in a boardroom, you can’t just mute yourself and shut off your camera when you need a water or bathroom break. Plus, everyone benefits from some time to process. Keep this in mind when coordinating your calendar, and—if possible—leave yourself a window of time to absorb what you learned, take care of any administrative tasks, or simply grab a snack. Remember: True productivity—and innovation—is a marathon, not a sprint.

Schedule time to focus

At home, you’ve likely had something you aren’t guaranteed at work: lots of time to focus. Without interruption from co-workers dropping by to ask a question or chat—or coffee, lunch, or drinks with clients—many of us had more quiet time for head-down assignments than we did previously. With a different, busier environment comes more distractions, which can have an impact on your ability to complete necessary tasks.

Blocking out time to do the work can help, as can returning to the quiet of your home office (or dining room table). Plus, many offices are maintaining flexible work policies even as they bring employees back to a physical location, due to the productivity they witnessed during the pandemic. If you’re in a leadership position, consider instituting the same policy. That way, you and your team can take advantage of time away from the office to handle tasks that take significant concentration.

Incorporate mindfulness

Many of the world’s most successful leaders make time for mindfulness—time to be still, process, and clear away the buildup of worries and unnecessary information that can cloud the mind on a day-to-day basis. If you haven’t instituted a mindfulness routine, this is a great time to start. Consider investing in an app that can guide you through those quiet moments—or simply schedule time to sit by yourself without distraction for even just a few minutes a day. Doing so can help you manage the influx of stimuli that comes with being out and about.

After such a tough year, it’s exciting to get back into a routine, see those we’ve missed, and find our way in the world again. Protecting your time as you readjust and beyond will ensure you get the most you can out of your new (old) normal.

About the Author

Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks ( Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.