On Friday 26th March, we came together to discuss the art of time management. During the meeting, a great variety of opinions and tips emerged, but we wouldn’t expect anything less. In fact, even though we all have 24 hours a day, the way we handle them is completely personal.
After the warm welcome of Noémie Clarke, the host of this month’s event, each participant was asked to share their thoughts and best practices on time management. As a community of language professionals we are all connected by languages, but in the meantime we do have different ways of spending and organizing our time.
The clock read 6:35 pm and we all took up the challenge to have our say in 30 seconds. One by one we talked about our vision of time and what we do to try and master it.
Apps, tools, principles and techniques… from the good old agenda to the most innovative and feature-packed digital systems, we all brought what works for us.
Some of us mentioned planners, timers, notebooks and to-do lists as their go-to tools. As simple as they can be, you can never go wrong with the basics!
Others shared some useful Apps and platforms. Among these Google Calendar ranked first place – supported by a great share of attendees – followed by Trello, Evernote, Calendly, Fabulous and Forest. The latter aroused particular interest, being a productivity app that helps users stay focused by giving them a purpose. The more time they spend away from the phone, the more they grow virtual plants that can eventually become real trees planted in Africa. An app that helps both us and our planet, what a great combination!
We also cited a few principles and techniques we find effective and useful to stay on top of our tasks:
- The Eisenhower’s Principle helps us differentiate urgent tasks from important ones.
- The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to alternate 25-min focused work sessions with 5-min breaks. By breaking down work into intervals and having frequent breaks, it is easier to stay focused and prevent mental fatigue.
- Time Blocking suggests dividing the day into blocks of time and carrying out a specific task during each block.
- Parkinson’s Law is a principle saying that the time needed to perform a work corresponds to the time you allocate to it. In a nutshell, if you think that a task will take 2 weeks to be prepared, then you will manage to carry it out within that time frame.
It was fascinating to see how varied the perspectives on a single topic can be.
While some of us go easier on themselves when it comes to time management, others need to have a clear picture of what they are going to do every day, in order not to feel overwhelmed. Indeed, staying on top of things is not a walk in the park.
Some people are more productive in the morning, while others feel their energy boosts during the day.
There’s who relies on deadlines and restrictions to get things done, who on motivation.
A number of us admitted to having the habit of over-preparing to feel completely safe, whereas others prefer to go with the flow. Sometimes leaving things to the last minute works and results in something more fun and creative.
“Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity.”
Although we had different points of view, we agreed upon the importance of making time to decompress and unplug. Life is busy, but sometimes we need to take a break. Whether it is a run or a meditation, carving a moment for ourselves during the day is key. We owe it to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Once all participants spoke their minds, we moved on to breakout rooms where the conversation was carried on. We then proceeded with structured networking and concluded with our usual 30 seconds intro pitches.
…And what about the initial big question? Is time an enemy or an ally?
Well, it has been a dynamic evening, full of insights and meaningful conversations, yet we did not really come up with an answer. In the end, it depends. Time can be both enemy and ally and it is up to us to try and make the most out of the precious 24 hours we are given everyday.
About the host, Noémie Clarke:
Noémie Clarke is a creative language teacher who realised she could also be an entrepreneur when she launched Eclectic Minds in 2015.
She designed the Eclectic Minds platform which offers small group language classes for adults in public places: Putting the people back at the heart of the language learning process.
Thanks to all the language professionals who attended and actively contributed to this conversation, regardless of the time zone. The money we have raised goes to support Moorfields Eye Charity.
Stay tuned for our next event, which will be on the 23rd of April! We’ll share the details soon. Until then, stay safe.