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Compartmentalising: A key for time management

Wednesday, 5 December 2012 | By Adam Levine

feature-work-life-thumbWhether you’re a successful entrepreneur, high-level executive or an ambitious go-getter working your way up the ladder, the reality is the more you take on, the more there is to get done – in the same amount of hours each day.

 

This challenge is particularly acute if you’re a solo operator, juggling the pressures of running a business and need for family time without a large team of staff to lean upon.

 

The fast paced 24/7 world we share with WiFi, smartphones, laptops and apps mean we’re always contactable and accessible.

 

This accessibility is what helps us add value to our clients but many of us will agree it can also be a major distraction.

 

So, until cloning is invented, how should you handle the reality of more work in the same amount of time?

 

My number one tip is: Compartmentalise.

 

An essential skill

 

Compartmentalising is giving what you’re doing your undivided and deeply focused attention for the minimum time required to get the most effective outcome, irrespective of the time of day or the location you’re operating from.

 

Adopt a “deep dive” focus for every task, get the job done, emerge and then refocus to the next task even if it’s diametrically opposed to what you’ve been doing.

 

This way you can focus on what you are doing and get it done and move immediately, without wasting time, to refocus on something else.

 

Seem selfish? Perhaps.

 

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A survival skill

 

Compartmentalising can be seen as being “off hand” or even rude if you are switching on and off and in and out of conversations and situations.

 

But it’s a survival skill and it’s not difficult to give those around you advance warning of how and why you operate this way.

 

Ultimately you are creating a more productive you, increasing the quality of time you can spend helping them.

 

Compartmentalising is not an easy skill to master but will be your best friend for the rest of your professional life.

 

Because, the simple reality is, when you operate in a competitive market and have to differentiate yourself, it’s your ability to push through and close one deal and then another that makes you stand out.

 

At the same time you need to remain focused on your personal, social and family life too.

 

Compartmentalisation tips

 

Here are some top tips on how to push through this while maintaining a healthy work-life balance:

  • Compartmentalise by narrowly focusing on one task at a time. Practice this every day and you will be surprised at what you can achieve.
  • Tell people you are compartmentalising and why. Explain how you focus on the quality of time and not quantity of time spent.
  • Understand that it’s OK to switch in and switch out as long as you communicate with those you trust and respect.
  • Learn to say no. It’s hard to do but learn to do it and you won’t regret it.
  • Learn that when you’re in a task, you need to go hard. Immerse yourself with everything you do – work, family and social relationships. What you’re aiming to do is expend the maximum amount of energy in the right direction at the right time so you’re not wasting time.
  • Most importantly – live life and go hard!

Adam Levine is founder of Rockwell Group Holdings, the holding company in which he has established and driven a range of mid-market businesses. He is also the executive chairman of the Rockwell Foundation and a Trustee of the Jewish Museum of Australia.

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