CONSULTANTS ARE INTERRUPTED CONTINUOUSLY AT WORK
End-user: Antti Pohjonen, Trainer: Ville Ojanen, Finnish Text: Helmi Hämäläinen 5 August 2018
Finalize a project plan, send an offer, make a shopping list, print the slides, and schedule a lunch date with Tero.
Modern life is fragmented and requires adapting to changing situations. Most of the working-age people, students, and even children live in a world where time management is needed. We may get nothing done despite our daily to-do lists.
‘Sometimes I’m in a horrible rush at work, but at the end of the day it feels like I have achieved nothing,’ says consultant Antti Pohjonen.
Pohjonen works in a software company called Siili Solutions. He participated in an online course on time management.
‘I seek out new methods from Academy of Brain’s online courses, to apply them into my own life,’ explains Pohjonen.
The time management Quick Fix gives tips for time-management at work and during free time. The objective is to identify what influences ourselves and plan our day accordingly. Psychologist Ville Ojanen discusses time management from the perspectives of prioritization, scheduling, and circumstances.
‘Time management is like today’s hunting; it’s inevitable for survival,’ states Ojanen.
According to Ojanen, time management is one of the essential skills for getting important things done. The opposite is rushing and the feeling of not having enough time. Good time management skills enable us to have enough time and energy for our tasks.
By participating in the time management training, you will learn to recognize what is important and how to schedule all of the tasks in their calendar. In addition, you will understand how a work environment affects your work.
Not only a means of survival
The objective of the first section in this training is to learn how to prioritize and write down tasks.
‘Things get forgotten if they are not written down.’ According to Pohjonen, the training gave him tools for structuring and scheduling tasks, yet at the same time shortening the to-do list.
Time management begins at stopping and thinking about why we are doing what we are doing. For many, memos and task-lists are a means of survival, a necessity. According to Ojanen, they can be much more than that: they can be used for becoming more efficient.
The second part of the training covers daily planning. Once you have listed and prioritized your tasks, transfer them to a calendar.
‘I was already using note applications along with the most common to-do list in the world – email,’ explains Pohjonen.
Pohjonen now turned his attention to recognizing routines and taking care of them first thing in the morning.
‘I have scheduled an hour each morning to deal with the smallest yet most disruptive tasks on my list.’
According to Ojanen, the morning is a time of awakening. It can be used for tasks requiring interaction and creativity but also for certain unavoidable routines.
‘Dealing with routine tasks each morning gives you energy, and you won’t be weighed down by dull tasks during the day. The end of the day often goes by quickly leaving tasks unfinished.’
Understand when you need to work remotely
In the last part of the training, we learn to identify environmental effects on our activities. Antti Pohjonen works as a consultant where it is common to be suddenly interrupted. According to Pohjonen, the interruptions are sometimes required to avoid being buried under your own thoughts. However, open offices are not always the best environment for tasks that require focus.
‘This training gave me the tools to manage my environment. If my task requires planning or thinking, I try to book a conference room or work remotely.’
Changing one’s habits requires a systematic approach, and it’s easy to fall back to old habits.
‘I have taken a new approach to many things, but sometimes I slip,’ admits Pohjonen.
Slipping from what you have learned does not mean failure. It is an essential part of the change, and it requires repetition.
Self-reflection and sparring with others are excellent ways of adopting new methods.
‘It pays to think about why am I doing something the way I am doing it, and not the way I should be.’ Ojanen says that learning new habits is comparable to a process in nature where a path is slowly covered with fresh grass if it is left unused.
Efficient working methods are part of your professional skills. According to Ville Ojanen, it is good to notice people who are doing something well and simply ask them how they do it.