How to prioritize your time step one: read this article

How to Prioritize Your Time and Find Balance in Your Contact Center

Flash forward: it’s December 31, 2019. You’re looking back on what you’ve done this year. How do you feel about your accomplishments? Did you solidify a plan to advance your career? Did you finally give your company the CSAT score bump they’ve been waiting for? Or, maybe you made it home for family dinner by 6 p.m. every evening? How about all three?

Regardless of what your final day of 2019 looks like, the reality is, you can’t get there without taking the time to sit down and spell out your goals and priorities for the year.

Instead of rattling off a list of resolutions that only 9.2 percent of people actually accomplish, we’re offering steps you can take to set real, actionable goals and prioritize your time.

If you’re not functioning at your best because you’re overworked and overwhelmed, your agents feel every bit of those frustrations and are more likely to lose their sense of balance, too.

It’s a scientific fact: When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs. And we all know how agent absenteeism and attrition negatively impact the service your customers get.

Here’s to hoping that this list allows you to spend more time on things you love and still crush it at work. Encourage your agents to do the same.

First up, define the why behind what you do.

Michelle Segar, Ph.D., a motivation scientist, explained how important it is to define the why that backs what you want to accomplish in life. The why is your golden ticket for a behavior change. It’s the foundational idea that gives you a reason for your future actions.

“Research shows that our primary reason for initiating a change determines whether we experience high or low-quality motivation. Outside pressure, or the belief that we “should” do something, leads to low-quality motivation.” – Michelle Segar

In other words, determine what you want to accomplish, not what you think you should accomplish. Then, map out what that success looks like – in your contact center and at home – and you’ll have some serious motivation to drive you towards it.

Set daily goals and mini-milestones.

Just like the progress principle points out, mini-markers propel you forward. You need overarching goals to act as your general compass to guide your team, sure, but mini-milestones give you and your agents motivational boosts to keep chugging along. Set little objectives each month, or even each week, to help you meet your year-end goals – like the little M&M you placed on a page in your textbook to give you the encouragement to read a few extra paragraphs. Chunking your goals into bite-sized pieces helps them feel less overwhelming and more obtainable.

Prioritize a productive off for a productive on.

There are two ways to look at this principle: the science-backed way, or the sentimental way. Both are equally compelling. We’ll go with science first. It’s a fact that taking quality time away from work makes people happier and more productive. After a vacation, 64 percent of people say they are not only refreshed but excited to get back to work. And, 86 percent of people who take short breaks throughout their workday say they are more productive. You simply can’t function at your highest if you don’t step away from the office (yes, that includes your laptop and smartphone) to replenish.

Next up, the sentimental rationale. Turns out, the second most common regret people had in life (from a pool of interviewees on their deathbeds) was working too much. Time is the one constant in life – everyone has the same amount of it. So, learn from others, and know when it’s time to step away from the daily hustle.

Don’t fall victim to the superhero syndrome.

What this really means is, be realistic with your time and manage expectations accordingly. This is an obvious one, right? But, all too often, we stuff our plates to the brim and repeat “I think I can” mantras all week long, only to fall victim to our own grandiose sense of capacity. Then, we feel overwhelming defeat when we don’t get to check off every task at the end of the week.

Here’s where better time management comes to play. There’s a difference between urgency and emergency. When you’re too reactive to other people’s needs and projects (outside of your agents’), you get a stuffed plate without extra room in your stomach. Just like the person who reached out to you for help, you have your own to-do list.

Rather than jumping ship from your own tasks right when an ask comes up, start a conversation about where a project fits into your schedule. Prioritize your needs, and predict what your agents will need from you, too. Sit down and rank the priority of each task on your daily to-do list. (Note to a call center manager: coaching your agents is on that priority list!) Then, the chart-topping tasks are sure to get checked off. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or hand out your time like candy.

Set personal limitations.

The ever-evolving customer in today’s world has dozens of channels to reach out for help. And what comes with that? Dozens of channels to monitor and constant access to your work – in your hand. (Thanks, smartphones.) Mission.org summed it up perfectly:

“The 40-hour workweek is dead. The average workweek in the U.S. has climbed to 47 hours. Half of salaried full-time employees work more than 50 hours each week. And unlike 20 years ago, work doesn’t stop when you leave the office. Work is always just one phone call or email away.”

Similar to having a productive off for a productive on, you need to set limitations for yourself when it comes to work. But here, we don’t mean getting up from your desk for a brisk lap around the office or scheduling a family vacation. Instead, we’re talking turning your phone off in the evenings. Putting your notifications on do-not-disturb mode. Setting aside time from 6 – 8 p.m. to ignore your flooding email inbox. Sit on the couch and relax or take your dog for a run. Carve out some real time for yourself. These personal limitations are about blocking out time for activities that have nothing to do with work.

Pro tip: setting your daily goals and realizing you don’t have superpowers will help with this.

When you have the magic blend of fulfillment at work and at home, you bring your whole self to work and radiate positivity down to your team of agents. Then they pass it off to make for happier customers.