Time management tips
Feel like you never have enough time in the day? Start getting things accomplished with our time management tips.
Know your goals
Your daily actions should be supporting your business goals. Any tasks you’re doing that are not in alignment are potentially a waste of your time. Be clear on why you are doing specific activities and eliminate or delegate tasks that are not relevant to your company’s aims.
Plan, Plan and then plan some more
One of the reasons people find themselves running around like headless chickens is because they fail to plan effectively.
At the end of the day:
Take some time to think about what you need in place for tomorrow. Do you have a meeting first thing? Print off the papers and make a note of any points you want to cover.
Tidy your desk. It only takes a few minutes, but you will feel much better coming into an uncluttered environment the next day with space to start work.
Taking time to properly close your day and prepare for the next means that when you leave the office, you can actually switch off, instead of worrying about work constantly.
In the morning:
Each morning resist the temptation to dive headlong into your emails! Take a few moments to think about your day and write down the most urgent tasks that need to be dealt with. Look at your calendar and familiarise yourself with your plans, so you feel at ease with your day ahead.
Eat a frog
You may have heard the phrase ‘eat the frog’. It comes from a quote by Mark Twain, who 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.”
What this means is do the difficult tasks or the ones you are dreading first! Why? Accomplishing this tricky matter first will give you a sense of accomplishment that will carry you through the rest of the day. All the other things that you deal after that will feel much easier.
You employed talented individuals for a reason, however, are you fully utilising their skills? Is it possible you are holding onto some tasks that in reality could be done by other people? Relinquish that control and only deal with things that need your input, let someone else deal with the rest.
As the business owner, you will find that there are lots of competing demands for your time. Start saying no to things that really do not need your input. If you do not have the time and your input is not critical to the project, then decline that invitation.
Use your calendar
Most people use their calendar to just schedule meetings and nothing else. However, if you really want to see how much time you have available in your day, then put in all your tasks reflecting the time they will take.
Use colour coding to help make it clear what are tasks and what is a meeting. It will help you to start saying no to things if your working week is already overloaded and you will also know when you are at your desk precisely what you are working on and for how long.
Excellence, not perfection
There is no such thing as perfection. If you are striving for that unattainable perfect outcome, then you are wasting time, as it is impossible. Work on something until it meets the requirements excellently, not perfectly, and then move on.
How many times is your train of thought interrupted by work colleagues, emails or phone notifications? Then once you deal with that distraction to have to get back to where you were, which all takes time – meaning the task you were doing takes longer than anticipated.
Close the office door or put on headphones, if in an open plan office, to signal to colleagues that you are not currently available. Or just say to the people around you, ‘please do not interrupt me for the next hour while I work on this’, so they are clear on your intentions.
Turn email notifications off. Instead set aside a time in the morning and afternoon when you will specifically look at your email. Very rarely is something so urgent that you need to deal with it there and then. It if was, they probably wouldn’t be emailing you.
Silence your mobile, let telephone calls go to voicemail. Try not to panic, it is just for a short while, most tasks you will not be working solidly on for more than 2 hours. So, it won’t be long before you can check your messages.
Build breaks into your day, especially when going from one thing to the next. Ever been in back to back meetings – how productive were you towards the end?
You need time to clear your mind, assess what just happened, prepare for the next activity, get a drink etc. This time means that you can start the next task or meeting refreshed and able to add real value to proceedings.
Find what your most productive time of day is
Are you a morning or evening person? When do you feel most energised? Discover what time of the day you are most productive and ensure you are fully utilising it.
Many people feel they get more done in the mornings as the feel refreshed. Also, if no-one gets into the office until 8:30am, consider getting there at 8am. It can be amazing how much you can achieve in half an hour without any interruptions when the office is quiet.
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