Time Management

1. Be Ruthless with Time
When it comes to time management, be ruthless with time, but always gracious with people.

2. Put in time to save time.
Spending ten minutes sorting out paperwork or planning the week ahead, is time well spent.

3. Do big/ complex tasks first.
Do the things that require maximum brain capacity or energy when you are at your best.

4. Fix deadlines and time-box activities.
Time-boxing means having a clear start and end time for activities. Work will fill a vacuum. If you say you will do a task over an afternoon, it will take you the whole afternoon. Time box it to 90 minutes and you will be more focused and productive.

5. Don’t postpone unpleasant matters
Unpleasant tasks will not go away and the longer you ignore them, the more serious they will become. Often the best time to tackle them is first thing in the morning, so you don’t spend the rest of the day worrying about them!

6. Do one thing at a time.
Aim to tackle one task at a time, but see each task through to completion.

7. Know your outcome
Think through each task before you start it. What do you want to achieve by doing it? It will only take a few seconds but it will increase your focus tenfold.

8. Collect all your ideas in one place
As the saying goes ‘ink it, don’t think it’. If you write something down, you don’t have to use up energy trying to remember to ring someone or do something.

9. Measure your progress.
Keep an action list of all your tasks and tick each one off as you complete them. It will give you a sense of achievement and keep you motivated.

10. Make it easy to walk away.
If possible go to other people’s offices or work stations as it is easier to walk away from them, than hope they will walk away from you when you have finished discussing what you wanted to.

11. Leave voicemail.
Rather than making a phone call, consider going straight to the other person’s voicemail. This may be possible depending on your company’s internal telephone system and you can certainly do it when phoning a mobile number. This will save time especially when you have a short message to convey.

12. Use your commute to catch up on phone calls but only if you have a hands free set in the car!

13. Analyse your interruptions and take steps to diminish their effects. In a study carried out by the University of California, business people were on average interrupted once every 11 minutes and on average it took them 25 minutes to return to the task at hand.

14. Allow 20% more time for every job than you think is necessary.
Remember under promise, but over deliver.

15. Practice saying No.
But always trying to maintain a positive relationship with the other person. A useful aid here can be saying to yourself that by saying ‘no’ to something or someone, you are really saying ‘yes’ to your own priorities.

16. Take short regular breaks.
No matter how interesting the task or how motivated we are, a break every 90 minutes will keep you fresh.

17. Celebrate your achievements.
Reward yourself when you have completed an unpleasant task.

18. Don’t go overboard and plan everything
Have times when you are doing nothing, being spontaneous and just having fun. Leave the watch at home from time to time.

19. View emails once or twice a day.
Perhaps first thing in the morning or first thing after lunch. Be ruthless with them. Delete, delegate, answer what you can immediately and allocate time for the remainder. Consider allocating time in your diary once a week for a marathon email session to clear that in-box. Have a separate email account for personal emails, personal newsletters you have subscribed to etc.

20. Energy Management
Time Management is not only about self management, but it is also about energy management. The more energised you are, the more productive and effective you will be.

21. Learn to use small bits of time
Often it is not the large chunks of time that will make the difference. For example, if you are waiting in reception to meet a client, could you clear an item from your to-do list by making a call rather than reading a magazine. Leave meetings as soon as they are over, rather than standing around chatting!

22. Priorities
The word priority mean ‘the most important’ so strictly speaking you cannot have more than one priority. Get in the habit of asking yourself, at this moment in time, what is the most important thing I could be doing? What is my priority? Try this for a week and it will revolutionise your life.

Select a small number of the tips above and practice them until they become second nature. Better to practice and use a small number, rather than simply reading the list, acknowledging their usefulness, but doing nothing with them.

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