Delegating and Hitting 'Pause' Can Both Provide More Valuable Time

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A year ago, Fast Company posted an article titled How to Redesign Your Days to Give You Back a Few Extra Hours Every Week. The author listed five categories where we can make changes: 

Quit Something
Limit Something
Pause Something
Delegate Something
Add Something

Contemplating these five areas is a good way to start the new year. Let's take a closer look.

For Quit Something, they wrote "Quit a recurring meeting. Quit a committee. Quit Facebook. Quit Candy Crush." Facebook and Asana (which was founded by a Facebook co-founder) both have a company-wide policy of no meetings on Wednesdays. You can also quit a poor habit or policy. Diversifying your speakers might be a good place to start. Take some extra time to do research to find new speakers for your next webinar, podcast or event. With those new speakers might just come a new audience. I visited an art exhibit yesterday titled The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today. And you can just see how the diverse content attracts—and engages—a diverse audience.

For Limit Something, how about email? Almost 85% percent of the people surveyed by Adobe Insights check their email before they get to work, and nearly a quarter take a look before they even get out of bed in the morning. People text or check personal email while watching TV (60%), talking on the phone (35%), working out (16%), and yes—I see it more every day—driving (14%). "Why is email so ingrained in our lives?" Kristin Naragon of Adobe Campaign asks. "One reason may be that it's so manageable—we can sort, file, filter, and generally get things done."

For the Pause Something, they wrote: "[Go] on a walk in the middle of the day. [Give] yourself permission to run an errand during your lunch break. Stopping for a moment to assert your ability to do the non-urgent reduces the sense that everything has to happen at a frenetic pace, and that there's no time to slow down." Writes prominent author and speaker Daniel Pink from his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing: "Research shows us that social breaks are better than solo breaks—taking a break with somebody else is more restorative than doing it on your own." A trip to the office kitchen—where there is always someone—stimulates my thought processes. Or, if you're home, finding a community at the coffee shop. 

Delegate Something might have the most potential of any category. I'm guilty of this myself. I run a couple local Meetup groups for the arts and volunteering here in the Washington, D.C. area. One is quite large and the other much smaller, so naturally I spend much of my free time on the larger one. A woman messaged me and said she noticed there isn't much activity on the smaller one. Could she help?

My first reaction was, "Oh I have this plan for that group and I will implement it soon. So I will tell her that and say thanks." And then I recalled that I was saying this six months ago and nothing has happened. I have continued to just pay attention to the bigger group and only think about what I want to do with the smaller one.

Someone was offering to help me, nothing was getting done, and I had to think about it? "As you plan your day, ask yourself: Is this something that I really need to do myself, or could someone else do this instead?" Fast Company wrote.

For Add Something, are you doing push alerts? "Push alerts show up in spaces where the interruption is hard to ignore: your phone's locked screen while you're trying to fall asleep, your smartwatch while you're in a meeting, a popup while you're answering an email," writes Rachel Schallom, deputy editor for digital at Fortune Media, in NiemanLab's excellent Our Predictions for Journalism 2020 series. "Long story short: If someone doesn't want to receive a push alert, they'll change their settings. An underrated metric in measuring an alert strategy's success is simply the number of subscribers a push notification list has. Editors can also look at the lifecycle of an alert subscriber: How long do they stay subscribed? How often do they change their settings?"

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…