We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Yet sometimes we find ourselves asking, “Where did the time go?”
We’ve all been there. Those days where our ‘to-do list’ overflows and more things seem to come up that need our attention. Let’s take a step back and transform how we approach time management.
Here’s how to manage your time more effectively:
Transformer #1: Plan your days as precisely as possible
Allocate your time in chunks or units to use it productively. But be aware that you can’t plan for everything. And remember that every good plan has to allow for contingencies.
Transformer #2: Make a daily list
At the end of every day, make a list of the jobs that you must do tomorrow. Use a handwritten notepad or an electronic task list. Cross off jobs as you accomplish each task and add new ones. Don’t worry – your task list will never be completed! No one’s ever is!
Transformer #3: Prioritise your time
Review what is crucially important versus what’s is urgent and essential. Then, reduce the amount of time spent on the unimportant. By doing this, you’re able to create time to address the non-urgent and important, these are the activities that can make the difference to your long term performance.
Transformer #4: Ring fence your time
Use your daily schedule to block time for important and essential items. This will help you work ahead and proactively allocate your time in the coming days, weeks and months.
Transformer #5: Simply… Learn to say “No!” and mean it
The more you say “yes” and comply, the more people will lean on you and take advantage of your time. You will get pulled in, even when the issue is not your responsibility, or falls outside your remit. If you feel unable to say “no”, use “perhaps” and discuss the priorities in your schedule.
Transformer #6: Bargain for more time
Whatever you perceive as being critical may often have more flexibility than you realise. Take some time to define the real time frame for what is actually required, not what someone else wants. You can’t deliver consistent excellence in two hours if the job really demands two days weeks or months. Avoid beating yourself up in the process of trying to deliver to irrational, unrealistic or insensible deadlines.
Transformer #7: Tackle the tough things first!
We often put off the “tough things” as we worry about the implication of doing them. By delaying, they can become larger issues. What are your “tough” things? Identify them and do them first thing tomorrow!
Transformer #8: Address recurring issues…
What consistent ’time waster’ can you identify? What are your weaknesses and where does it repeatedly go wrong for you? Once you become more aware of these, you have to deal with them and alter them. Think about your weaknesses and how you will manage them.
Transformer #9: Firmly address interruptions
Interruptions can be the bane of your life! Try using physical signals in your work space. “Door open” or “Earbuds off” – I’m accessible and available. “Door closed” or “Earbuds on” – do not disturb! Be polite, but firm. When you’re in the middle of something, you can say, “Not right now. But I will get back to you at this time.” Set the time when you are available and keep the promise. Remember that every minute lost is another minute added to the end of your working day. If you want to leave work on time, manage your time!
Transformer #10: Perform a Habit Upgrade
Evaluate, assess and upgrade your habitual behaviours. What habit(s) do you have that need(s) refurbishing, renovating, upgrading or changing? Commit yourself to making a positive change and carry out the necessary improvements.
By increasing your awareness of where and how you spend most of your time, you can identify and take proactive steps to avoid any procrastination. Try applying the Time Transformers listed above. When you gain a better understanding of how to manage interruptions and other time stealers, you will learn when and how to delegate or push back while maintaining positive co-worker relationships. And you’ll be able to set up basic routines for yourself to avoid fatigue or burn-out. If you role model effective practices you can generate self and team commitments for better time management on the job. Good luck!