Time is a precious commodity. We often talk about not having enough time. However, we are all given the same 24 hours. Rather than complaining or focusing that you don’t have enough, think about what you can do about it. We cannot manage time itself, but we can manage ourselves and what we do with the time we are given.
Here are some time management tips you can implement to help you get productive and stay balanced at work as well as outside the office. It may be useful to give a few a try, evaluate and then try a few more.
BE OPEN to change. This is the single, most important tip. If you are not ready for change, you won’t be able to modify your habits in order to try something new.
Value time not money. We are much more cautious with our finances than with how we spend our time. Time is more valuable. You can earn extra money but you can never earn more hours.
Use ‘vacation’ prioritizing. It’s amazing how much we can get done in just prior to taking a vacation. We aggressively work on and trim down our to-do list as our vacation day gets closer. If we did this daily, we could complete more important items and waste less time tasks that are unimportant.
Start within five minutes of sitting down at your desk or work area. Half an hour or an hour wasted here on procrastination or distractions are costly.
If you’re procrastinating, rather than getting frustrated or annoyed, simply ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Are you scared of the task ahead? Is it too difficult, too easy, or boring? Are you tired? We can waste a lot of energy and time on the things we’re putting off.
Check your email inbox at specific times vs reading each one when it comes in. If needed, set up rules for those senders that are a priority. Chose blocks of time to read and respond to emails, such as mid-morning, early afternoon and late afternoon.
Use T.A.R. Every piece of paper and email falls into one of three categories: Trash - For each item ask, “Can I throw it away?” If so, then delete immediately! Action - If you cannot toss it out, ask “Is action required?” If action is required, ask “What’s the next step?” and write that step on your to-do list. Reference - If an action is not required, then the item is reference and should be filed. By separating paper and emails into categories, you won’t be sorting through them to seek out those that need action. Also, you’ll find there isn’t as much action needed as you thought.
Identify anything causing a regular, repeated drag or drain on your time. These might include technology, systems, workflow or people, for example. One by one, take these things and fix them, address them, or change them to free up more time.
Limit the things that drain your time and energy. Then, with the time you do have you’ll get more done in a focused, energized way.
What, to you, constitutes time well spent? Write a list of five things. How often have you done these things in a) the past month? b) the past year?
You can actually get quite a bit accomplished in half an hour. Don’t just float because you’ve only got half an hour until your next meeting or appointment.
We regularly underestimate how long something will take us. Factor this in!
Do you like the pressure of working to tight deadlines or not? Are you motivated to get started on a project the night before it’s due in, or do you prefer to leave yourself plenty of time? Either way is fine, but know which method works for you and use it to your advantage. Either set yourself more deadlines, or make sure you leave time to plan and deliver well in advance.
Take mini breaks when you need them during the day to recharge and refocus.
Are you trying to force things to happen in a certain time frame? Could you let it go and let things happen in their own time instead?
End your working day at a fixed time. Don’t let work creep to fill your entire evening. You can also have two finishing times. One for an ideal shutdown time, and one being the latest time that you won’t work past.
Sleep! Be sure to rest your mind and body!
We all need down time! Take lengthy breaks away from work at the weekend, in the evening and on holidays to help you stay productive long term.
You don’t have to be there all of the time. Outsource to a Virtual Assistant. A Virtual Assistant can manage your email, calendar, social media, etc., freeing up time for you to focus on other tasks.
Review, Evaluate & Adjust. Take time to look back at how you’ve spent your time. What adjustments did you make? Which ones worked? How do you want to spend your time going forward? Will you spend it the same way, or make some changes?