A new year typically heralds new resolutions that we all promise to keep but lose sight of midway through the year, if we are lucky to last that long. Have you had better luck with yours?

Well, this year my resolution is to make better use of my time at work – devote hours to what’s most important to me and my team, and worry less about putting in face-time to projects that will not maximise the greater good.

A recent study by Bain & Company showed top executives currently spend the equivalent of two days each week to meetings with co-workers.

While that may sound reasonable if the collaboration proves its worth, the same study found managers today spend hours sifting through the average 30,000 external pieces of communication they receive yearly, up from just 1,000 in the 1970s, but without good results.

Greg Caimi, partner and co-author of the time management study, said something that resonated with me: “If time really was money, and accounted for in the same way, many companies would be running huge deficits.”

And that’s what got me thinking. While everyone faces a daunting checklist daily, there are ways to squeeze in time for self-development if you’ve got the inclination.

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

1. Go out, meet your business connections: Hiding behind the digital screen is a habit we’re all too used to, but how about putting a face to that name?

A quick coffee with an industry peer whose work you’ve long admired might just give you that fresh idea you’ve been looking for your own next project.

ALSO READ: Stop wasting everybody’s time

2. Teach someone something you’re good at: In the 2000 movie Pay It Forward, Haley Joel Osment’s character tried to make the world a better place by starting a chain of good deeds.

In our roles, learning is one of the best deeds we can do.

If you’re good at something, go ahead and share your skill with a willing learner – whether its a neat new spreadsheet you’ve created to track productivity, or even something like my colleague’s helpful sharing of Singlish words to pepper my daily conversations (thanks for the daily lesson, AK!).

3. Make reading a habit: If you, like me, lost touch with reading the minute smartphones came along, then its a good time to rebuild the habit, given that Mark Zuckerberg just successfully completed his 2015 resolution of reading one book every two weeks.

First step is to identify what you enjoy reading about, and then find the best time and way to do it – 15 minutes of Harry Potter on your MRT ride on a tablet, or catching up with the daily HR news at humanresourcesonline.net after dinner (shameless plug, I know).

The result? The in-depth perspectives and examples I get from reading more not only make my conversations more fun, but also helps me strengthen my resolve against unnecessary distractions.

Would love to hear your tips and tricks of managing time. Here’s to a productive 2016. 

Image: Shutterstock

Aditi Sharma Kalra

Human Resources Magazine Singapore

When not spending her time eating or looking at dog videos, Aditi loves to read, write, and tweet about HR. She is managing all content for Human Resources in its print and online forms, across Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

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