We all have the same 10,080 minutes in a week. But why is it that some people are just so much more productive with their time? Does it sometimes feel like time is slipping away and you haven’t finished all of your tasks? We’re taking a look at time management and how you can manage your time more effectively.
“There are no secrets to success. Don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of hard work, persistence and learning from failure.”
– Colin Powell
Let’s start with a little clarity. The title of this post is about managing your time effectively. But we need to be efficient too. Effectiveness is doing the right things; and efficiency is doing things in the right way. They both work hand in hand.
Does this sound like you…?
You work really hard and are well organised, but spend most of your time on un-prioritised (and often urgent) tasks. Now this may be efficient, but these ‘urgent’ tasks are usually not effective. To be effective you need to decide what tasks are important and to focus on these.
Being efficient and effective
So with those 10,080 minutes in a week, it’s how you choose to use them that is the difference between those who accomplish a lot and those who don’t. The quickest way to improve your time management is to prioritise your workload. Seems simple doesn’t it? But we know it’s harder in practice and it takes a little discipline and effort to make it work!
Create a list
Try starting off by making a daily list of what is urgent and what is important. Often the urgent jobs (which you used to prioritise) aren’t actually that important. Think about it, and act accordingly!
What’s sabotaging your time?
Here’s a few things to avoid and how you can put them right, to help save time and be more productive:
- Checking your email. Don’t respond to your email on-demand and don’t read every email the moment it arrives! Only respond to emails during two pre-set times of the day (e.g. at 9.00 and 3.30). Otherwise ignore them. Reply to emails from clients first and to emails that are important for dealing with today’s primary objectives.
- Interruptions. Minimise them. Switch off the noise from your computer that tells you an email has arrived.
- Mobile phones. Use voice-mail. Let others leave you a message so that you can call them at your own convenience. Start to control when and how others have access to you. Not the other way around!
- Meetings that over-run. Avoid them!
- Poor typing/technical skills. Seems simple but you should try and allocate some time each month for computer training. You can boost your productivity by improving your typing skills, learning shortcuts and getting more out of the software you use.
- Poor planning. Plan and prioritise your day (ideally the evening before).Use a To Do List. Don’t accept unrealistic deadlines.
- Procrastination. Don’t do it! This just gives you bigger problems tomorrow.
- Optimism. Try not to over promise and under deliver. Usually, most tasks will take around 50% longer than you’ve estimated.
- Being too helpful. Make the distinction between “Where can I help”, and “Where am I really needed”. This is particularly important when you are interrupted.
- Not delegating enough. Think “Should I be doing this, or should I be delegating it?”
- Busy, but not productive. Instead of focusing on being busy, focus on achieving specific priorities. It’s not the hours you put in; it’s what you put into those hours that count. Concentrate on one thing at a time, preferably until it is finished.
- Too much clutter. At the end of your day, spend five minutes cleaning up your space. Also use this time to file and organise your desktop. This will give you a clean start for the next day.
If you want to be more effective with your time management and to take back control of one of the most pressure commodities in your life – TIME, then our Effective Time Management Course can help. It looks at current working practices and explores techniques for gaining greater control over time with a more structured and planned approach to managing interruptions, priorities, processes and people.
Furthermore, if you’d like us to design a bespoke course for you why not give us a call on 01423-861-122 or fill in our short contact form – we’d love to help you!