Time Management Tips
These ten tips are so easy that they’re darn near impossible. Seriously. These ten topics hold the secret to time management – the trick is to be disciplined enough to implement them (and keep them implemented).
Time Management Tools
1. Plan each day. Write your “to-do” list the night before and prioritize your work. The next day any new tasks that come up go to the end of the list. Be sure to break your tasks into manageable pieces.
2. Time–block your day. For regular or routine activities, set aside time each day to focus just on them. If they are high priority, do them in the morning before reading email or anything else.
3. Group your work. It is more efficient to do like activities together. Put “client follow up calls” or “status updates” together, for example, and you’ll finish them much faster.
4. Focus. Turn off your phone and clear the distractions. Focus on one priority item and finish it. Then start the next one. Multi-tasking may be a necessity sometimes, but it is not an efficient way to work on an ongoing basis. You’ll complete a lot more in a day if you can focus and complete an activity before starting another.
5. Delegate. Are there time-consuming activities that can be completed by someone else? If not, can you hire someone? More and more people have part-time virtual assistants or shared support staff to handle reporting, research, answering emails and other important but time-consuming admin tasks.
6. Just say “no.” …or at least “not right now.” It is a huge relief to regain control of your time. If you feel you can’t say no to a request, then set a realistic time “I can help you with this on Friday,” and schedule it.
7. Group meetings. Do you spend a lot of time out of the office? Try to schedule your meetings in a geographic loop or cluster for more efficient driving time. Got two internal meetings in one day? Try to schedule them back to back so you can have big blocks of non-meeting time to get work done.
8. Use an agenda. Just taking a few minutes to create an agenda is enough to assure a shorter, more productive meeting. Ask your colleague, “can the meeting be completed by phone or Skype, or do we need a face-to-face?”
9. Contain email. Email can suck the life out of your day if you are not careful. Use the same techniques of time blocking and grouping to handle your email. Set aside 3-4 times a day to read and respond to email. Use filter programs to sort the important emails from the junk. When you tackle the important emails, respond to them in groups like “customer follow up” or “team project management” so you can be efficient with your responses. When you are not actively using email, shut it down so you are not tempted by every beep or buzz. If you have emails with standard responses, you may wish to turn those over to an assistant.
10. Take a day for yourself. We often are so busy in our business, there is no time to focus on the business. Block out a day a month where you are “out of the office” and spend that time reading industry publications, planning ahead, thinking about issues and generally improving yourself.