Becoming better at managing your time does not have to be hard work, if you follow the seven day plan outlined below you will find yourself managing your time more effectively in one week, others will start noticing it to.
- Time flies, but knowing where it goes to is the first step towards making sure you make the most of it. Compile a log during the course of a week, noting how many minutes you spend on each activity. Include everything from meetings and paperwork to telephone calls and interruptions.
- Consider the ultimate objective of your job and focus on priorities and key tasks you need to achieve in order to reach your goal. Then look at the overall picture of your week – do you spend the majority of time on key tasks or work which could be delegated? Are interruptions or other factors a problem?
- Analyse the percentage of time you spend on proactive and reactive tasks. This may vary according to the time of year, but it’s important to have a general idea. Whatever the percentage, this is your real world and you need to live in it.
- Don’t plan 100% proactive work in a day, but allow time to respond to colleagues, customers or problems. Plan realistically. Don’t set or agree to deadlines you know you can’t meet – offer an alternative, achievable time frame instead.
- Use your diary to make appointments with yourself. Schedule in time spent dealing with paperwork and making telephone calls. Allow enough time to make sure you achieve what you set out to. Most people underestimate the time it takes to do particular tasks and forget to allow time for things to go wrong.
- Allocate time for interruptions. Tell people in advance when you are and are not available, and stick to it. If you are interrupted during your proactive period, tell the interrupter that you are busy, explain why and suggest an alternative time. It may help to tell people at the outset how much time you have available to spend with them. Persistent interrupters are often discouraged if you stand up when they come in, or pick up a pile of papers.
- Finally, make sure you allocate time to stand back and think. Revisit your list of priorities and assess how you are doing.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner