Before you can start managing your time, you have to analyse how it’s being used.
Keep a log of your daily activities for 2–3 weeks. Once you have a fair representation of your regular time usage, ask yourself the following three questions for each of the items in your log.
- Does it need to be done? Just because the weekly sales report has been produced for the past 10 years doesn’t mean that you need to keep generating the data. Perhaps you’re duplicating work being done by another department. Are all your tasks necessary? Are there things you can eliminate because they do not add value?
- Do I need to do it? Once you’ve created your list of necessary tasks, decide if you should be doing them. If a regular sales report is needed, perhaps an assistant can prepare the information. Put your delegating skills to work.
- Does the process need to be improved? Now that you’ve pared things down to the essentials, this is the time to look at efficiency. Do the meeting minutes need to be prepared, printed, collated, staples and distributed to committee members? Can the minutes be handled by an e-mail attachment or better yet, posted to some form of groupware? Perhaps you are producing a brochure when you have an in-house desktop publisher? Are you making the best use of tools and processes.
Working through needs 1 and 2 should go a long way to reducing the tasks that are not necessary or not necessary for you. Need 3 will ensure the remaining responsibilities are handled with the most efficient processes and tools. Once you’ve completed this analyses, you can move on to making sure your organizing system captures the tasks and gets them done on time.