In the realm of people management, it’s rarely good to be a micromanager – this implies excessive supervision of employees, often times with the manager making constant criticisms. Not only is this bad for the employee, as it does not allow them to grow professionally, it’s also bad for the manager, because it sucks up a lot of their time. However, whether you are a manager or not, there is a type of micromanagement that everyone can benefit from – time micromanagement.

Become more conscious of the time between.

The difference between time management and time micromanagement is that you take a constant evaluation of how you are using even small amounts of your time, or, as I put it, you become more conscious of the ‘time between’.

Time blocking your calendar, clustering, and evaluating and reevaluating your priorities are all great examples of macro-management of time, where you can plan ahead and be purposeful, but when I refer to the ‘time between’ it’s about those small moments of time, of about 10 minutes or less, planned or unplanned, that come up several times a day, like between meetings, or on your commute.

Time micromanagement is not about working every possible minute of the day, as a matter of fact it could be quite the opposite, it’s about being conscious of those moments and being purposeful of how we spend them as well, which can often be to clear our mind or take a break from devices.

So often do we find ourselves waiting in a meeting room for others to join, and what do we do? Maybe we answer our Slack messages, or check Instagram; maybe we respond to an email or text our friend back; how often is our instinct to turn to our devices and get caught up with work or our social lives?

Gain back some of the time lost in automation throughout the day.

Those times between meetings, or on the subway, or in the elevator add up and if you were to pay closer attention to what you do in those small time blocks you find yourself in often, then you can gain back some time that is otherwise lost in automation throughout the day.

If you have an urgent email and you find yourself with ten minutes to go between your next meeting, it probably makes sense to address it. It will help you relieve some stress and be more in control of your time later. But if there is nothing urgent in your inbox, and the only channel in Slack that has unread messages is #officepets then those ten minutes are yours, and you can do what you want with them. 

You may choose to message your friend back, and that is also OK, as long as you aren’t doing it automatically and wishing you had taken the time to follow up on a colleague about something you need for the next meeting. That being said, these moments can also be a good time to actively avoid devices and build relationships with others in the room who are also waiting for the meeting to start. Or you could grab your pen and notebook and do some free thinking to help clear your mind (which will give you more clarity on where to spend your time in the future).

Time micromanagement not about what you do, it’s about being conscious of these small opportunities of time throughout the day and doing something purposeful instead of falling into an automatic response, often with our devices.