Women’s Recycling Alliance – time management takeaways

On 4 November, the Women’s Recycling Alliance (WRA) took its annual conference online, with delegates from across the UK meeting on Zoom to discuss all-things-time-management – in a three-hour session hosted by Max Redhall from the Springboard Consultancy.

The day kicked off with a quick poll to establish delegates’ personal assessments of their own time management tendencies – with 100% of the audience believing themselves to be ‘generally alright but could do better’.

Alongside sharing personal challenges – both pre- and-post-pandemic — there were plenty of practical tips and tricks on offer, and we’ve collated our key findings into a quickfire guide which covers our top takeaways from Max’s workshop.

This is perfect for anyone wanting to recap on the day’s content, or for any women in the waste and recycling industry who want to learn a little about this key area of personal development.

  1. Understand what makes time management tough

“There aren’t enough hours in the day for work, childcare, exercise and relaxation,” is a common phrase in many faucets of life but delving into what makes allocating time for each struggle is key. Most agreed that unplanned requests from colleagues, customers, friends and family were the biggest ‘culprits’ when it came to encroaching on even the best-laid plans. Furthermore, a shift to working from home made many struggle to delegate tasks, where others would be better suited to handle the delivery.

  1. £86,400 to spend each day – how do you get rid of it?

No, we haven’t spent the day binge-watching Ozark. Imagine you were given £86,400 every day and you had to spend it on yourself. You couldn’t put it in a bank or give any of it away – what would you do?

It’s a tough challenge isn’t it – once you’ve bought houses, cars, designer clothes and a pony what else is there? Now consider there are 86,400 seconds in a day. That’s endless opportunity to ‘spend’ your minutes and hours on what matters. So think of your time as currency, and spend it wisely – it’s only to splurge on things you enjoy, but not at the detriment of what truly matters.

  1. Know when you work best

As Mark Twain once said: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Some of us are ‘on fire’ when we steal a march on the day by logging on at 7am, others come into their prime at 10am.There are people that prefer to get meetings, emails and little jobs out of the way in a morning, break for lunch and then focus on ‘tackling the big jobs’, and vice versa. By understanding the schedule that works for yourself and your colleagues, you’ve made the first step towards a more efficient way of working.

  1. Embrace ‘the new normal’

We understand, not everyone likes change. It’s probably also the case that you’ve heard this too many times to count, but if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that a flexible approach to working is key. Granted, our industry is still very traditional in its nine-to-five approach to the working day – but if colleagues are juggling the school run with working from a makeshift desk in the spare bedroom, capitalising on their ‘power hours’ is imperative.

  1. Ditch, delegate, do.

Ticking things off a ‘to-do’ list can be incredibly rewarding – but sometimes said list can get completely out of hand, with more things being added than you’re crossing off. While there are several techniques for getting through the mounting tasks, a great way to tackle an overwhelming workload is by assessing the importance and urgency of each.

  1. Make a ‘do not do list’

This may sound counterproductive but write down what you shouldn’t spend your time doing and stick it on a post-it note in your eye line. Going back to our earlier point about delegation, this could be something as simple as ‘other people’s jobs’, right down to ‘checking social media when I should be working’. A visual reminder of the things that take you away from the ‘to do’ list can sometimes help you to be more productive than the latter!

  1. Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

It’s important to break away from learned stigmas from childhood – or which you’d attributed to yourself throughout your career. You may think ‘I’m not a numbers person’ and put off any tasks which relate to data or finances but — going back to the notion of ‘eating the frog’ – you can do them, just make the time to break each part into more manageable chunks.

  1. Creative procrastination

The act of delaying or postponing a task doesn’t make it go away – but it does mean you end up with shorter deadlines and higher levels of stress relating to it, which is usually something you’re not looking forward to.

Flipping that concept on its head though – look at the ‘build up’ as a way of apportioning ‘thinking time’ to an otherwise tough nut to crack. Find time to put yourself into an environment which allows you to consider how best to tackle the task and approaching it as an opportunity to learn, rather than as something you’re ‘dreading’.

  1. Let’s talk about emails

Admittedly one of the biggest ‘time eaters’ of desk-based professionals – heightened by the sheer volume received during lockdown – meant that delegates felt they were ‘always on’, and had to respond within a few minutes of a message landing in the inbox.

Holding emails, out of offices, colour coding, flags, filters, and rules were all tried and tested techniques for managing the barrage of digital communications.

  1. Out of hours emails

Linked to the above — and underpinning the conversation — was the humble email’s ability to encroach on your personal life. Therefore, allow yourself to manage expectations and not be – if someone emails at 7pm, remember that you aren’t expected to respond.

These are our seven key takeaways from the workshop, and we’d like to give a massive thank you to The Springboard Consultancy for such an insightful session.

Are you a woman working in the waste and recycling sector? Are you looking for inspiration to make the most of the 86,400 seconds in your day? The WRA is a great platform to speak about your experiences and share them with like-minded professionals. If you’d like to find out more about the WRA and how to join, visit our dedicated webpage.


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