February is Time Management Month. This is the month to put all those New Year’s resolutions that you made in January start to fall apart. Don’t let it happen! Instead plan wisely and soon you will see how easy it is to stick to your goals.
According to a survey done by Greenfield Online, “If given an extra two hours each day, US repondents would spent that time at home with family.”
What would you do with two extra hours per day? Good management of your time can help free up extra hours. Here are ten tips to help you best manage your time.
1) Always Look Ahead
It is human nature to want to live in the past: to savour accomplishments or to wallow in defeats. However, you will not effectively move forward if you are constantly looking backwards.
There is a law of diminishing returns at work here. Take encouragement or learn a lesson from your past experience and use it to move on to new challenges and opportunities.
2) Consolidate Similar Tasks
Much time is lost in the starting, stopping and changing of different levels or types of activity. Save timeby grouping similar tasks together. Make all your outgoing phone calls at the same time. Organize your errands into a single run. Reply to e-mail once during the day. This is a more efficient use of your time.
3) Count on Interruptions
No matter how well you organize your schedule, there will be times when interruptions get in the way. Here are a couple of things you can do to minimize the effect of interruptions:
- Buffer your schedule. If you know a project will take 2 hours, add another 30 minutes to buffer for time lost to interruptions.
- Identify periods of interruptions. If get more interruptions Monday mornings than Wednesday afternoons, plan high-concentration activities for Wednesday afternoon.
4) De-clutter you schedule
If you find you are racing from one place to another, with little time to breathe, your schedule is too full. It’s time to prune.
If you’re involved in too many activities, eliminate those that are not important. Organize and schedule your errands. Consolidate them into a single run. This will free up time in your day.
5) Plan your phone calls
Time spent on a phone call can easily get out of hand if you don’t have a plan in place. Make notes of what you want to say before you make your call. List all the information you need to obtain. It will keep you on track in your conversation and eliminate follow-up calls for missed information.
6) Set routine and stick to it
Crises will arise and interruptions will occur, but it will be a lot easier to get things back on track if you have a routine in place.
7) Set Time Limits on Tasks
There are certain types of tasks, reading e-mail for example, that can occupy all your time if you allow it. Most tasks fall victim to Parkinson’s Law, expanding to fit available time. Get into the habit of scheduling fixed time slots for your tasks. Once you reach the end of the time limit, stop what you’re doing and head to the next task or appointment.
Once you’ve spent some time with this system, you can refine the way it works. You will know which tasks will fit in the half-hour before meeting starts and which tasks are better suited to a full afternoon.
If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have the time to do that,” I’m too busy right now,” or “I’m too tired to get that done,” you may need to simplify your life. Don’t let the stresses of life control you. You need to take control of your life.
9) Take a break
It may seem counter-intuitive to getting things done, but it is important to feel energetic. If you’re not eating properly, or your muscles are tight from too much time in one position, or your stress level is rising, your productivity will decrease. Take a break.
Take a few minutes for lunch—away from your desk. Take a 10 minute nap or a short walk to relieve stress. When you return to your work, you’ll have energy to tackle the job.
10) Write things down
Unless you have very little to do or the tasks you have are highly repetitive, you cannot depend on your brain to recall everything that needs doing. The things that are most immediate are going to push away things in the background —often the most important. By writing things down you free up you brain to analyse the information and make productive decisions.
- Time is Money: Improving Time Management (TimeManagementMagazine.com)
- 10 Time Management Tips (creativeorganizingblog.simplify101.com)
- 7 Critical Tips for Time Management (mckremie.com)
- About time management – how to time management properly to keep time on your side (cashflowkiller.wordpress.com)