3 Key Steps for Time Management. Learn the 3 steps identify, organise and plan as the benefits in controlling your own time are certainly worth the effort.
One of the biggest problems you have to face in managing your business is that there is never enough time to do the things that you have to do.
There is only one answer to not having enough time and that is to manage your time more effectively. There is an old saying that if you want a job done, you give it to a busy person – they will make the time for it. If you give it to someone who has the time, they will never get around to it.
One of the most important things in managing time is to identify and get rid of the time wasters – those things that sneak into your daily schedule and eat into your time without achieving any worthwhile output.
It is what we do with our time that counts. How we manage the tasks which need to be done in the time we have is what sets one person apart from another as far as effective time management is concerned. By using time effectively and efficiently, we enable ourselves and our business to be more productive and profitable and by encouraging others to do the same, the end result is maximised. This is important in both our business and personal lives as one relates directly to the other.
Improved management of your time
- Set goals and objectives and break down large tasks into smaller ones.
- Discipline yourself. Focus on one thing – don’t spread your thoughts and energies. Keep a notepad with you to capture thoughts that you can attend to later.
- Be realistic – don’t try and do too much. Remember the saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’!
- Use a diary – don’t rely on memory for appointments or planned activities Don’t forget to look at it daily! When talking to people, enter any follow-up action into your diary immediately. It will help you plan your activities and you won’t let anyone down. Use only one diary, otherwise, you may forget to transfer things from your business diary to your home diary!
- Use a ‘to do’ list which lists tasks to be performed each day. This will then show you how much you really do in the day and helps you work toward your goals. Prioritising this list is essential if you are to focus on important tasks.
- Start and finish with a clear desk or workspace. Clutter is time wasting as you shuffle papers or shift things to find that something you know is there somewhere. Use the floor instead of cluttering your desk space and sort work into piles.
- Handle items/paper once. When you receive mail, deal with it immediately, otherwise, you will spend endless hours shuffling it around the desk and not really doing anything with it. And use your rubbish bin! Don’t keep things just ‘because they might be useful’. Chances are, they won’t be!
- Fix deadlines to tasks – this helps to make you do a job and you will feel better when you have achieved them.
- Set aside blocks of time for phone calls and appointments. If you are visiting a certain area, arrange all the requirements for that area for that part of the day.
- Sort work or tasks into the order of importance. Don’t do all the ‘little’ things first just to get them out of the way; chances are you will never get around to doing the really important things and when you realise you have not, you will have to rush and not do the best job possible. This only adds stress to your life and is not very professional.
- Learn to delegate and learn to become assertive – say ’no’ instead of taking on work you know you cannot effectively complete. Some people end up with everyone else’s work simply because they can’t say ‘no’.
- Don’t procrastinate. If you know you have to do something, just get on and do it! It won’t go away by putting it off!
- Turn wait time into working time. Use every spare minute to catch up on that extra reading or writing – many books have been read and reports written in captured moments between tasks.
- Discipline yourself and don’t try to be superhuman. No one will thank you for it and you will never be satisfied with your performance. Take time out for yourself. Remember YOU are the most precious resource you have. Look after yourself.
3 key steps for time management
Identify how you spend your time now, set up a time log and list the activities you perform, at what time and for how long. Do this for one week and you will certainly have a clear picture of how you spend your time, Don’t forget things like sleeping, talking on the phone, watching TV, and so on, Keep a notepad alongside your work station to capture the odd thoughts, which you can attend to later.
The following list shows the top 20 time-wasters in business. As you read through the list, consider whether any of these are your time wasters.
- Lack of objectives, priorities, and planning.
- Crises management, shifting priorities.
- Telephone interruptions.
- Attempting too much at once.
- Personal disorganisation (eg cluttered desk).
- Drop-in visitors.
- Ineffective delegation.
- Lack of self-discipline.
- Inability to say ‘no’.
- Procrastination – indecision.
- Leaving tasks unfinished.
- Paperwork, red tape, reading.
- Lack of standards, controls, program reports.
- Untrained, inadequate staff.
- Poor filing system.
- Confused responsibility and authority.
- Over dependent staff.
Sort your tasks into daily, weekly and monthly categories. Are there some things which must be done at regular times? Are there some things which can only be done by you? Can you delegate some tasks to others? Remember, delegating gives responsibility to others and increases their confidence and self-esteem. Are there some chores which can be changed or dropped completely?
Consider the tasks which are yours alone. Set up a timetable for these activities, guided by the information you have just gathered. Are there busy times or gaps where other tasks could fit in? This timetable, together with your diary and ‘to do’ list, will become your personalised plan for effective management of your 168 hours a week.
It is important to be flexible though, and the best way to do this is to ensure that there is ample time in your schedule to meet any unforeseen circumstances. It is also important to schedule some of your best time for uninterrupted work and to schedule a time when you are available to talk to people. Once people become aware of your availability, you will be able to reduce those interruptions.
The benefits in controlling your own time is certainly worth the effort it takes. Based on the experiences of many successful business people, you can be most productive if you control the time the way you would any other resources.
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Imagine how good it would be if your business is giving you the money,
time and freedom you always wanted!