Time is one of the most valuable commodities there is. There never seems to be enough of it. Focusing on your own use of time and applying efficiencies and organization will result in more available time. More available time allows for greater accomplishments. Time management requires evaluation of one’s own use of time. Identifying and eliminating time wasters, organizing work in a way that allows the greatest productivity and adhering to the schedule and parameters of your plan are the keys to effective time management.
“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste time.” – Henry Ford
- Prioritize Your Work – After identifying the items that need to be taken care of sequence them in terms of importance, impact and time required. Sometimes it’s effective to put items that will only require a few minutes at the top of the list. If there are items on your list that are part of a larger project that require further action from others it’s always advantageous to keep the projects with the longest lead times moving. Establishing the order in which you will do things is critical to effective use of time.
- Take Advantage of Your Most Productive Hours – Everyone has a time when they’re at their best. Some people are most productive in the early morning while others are more productive in the afternoon. Schedule your most important activities to coincide with the time of day that’s to your advantage.
- Process Your Emails on a Schedule – Avoid checking your emails throughout the day and responding to them. This can be one of the biggest time leaks there is. Schedule specific times each day to process emails and stick to your schedule.
- Batch Your Work – Group like tasks together. If you have several items that require the same type of action process them together then go on to the group with the next type of action required. For example if there several customers that need to be contacted for approval on work to be done, process them together.
- Set Dedicated Time Aside for Special Projects – If time is required for special projects schedule time when you will not be available for other things. This will allow you to focus and be more productive.
- Eliminate Time Wasters – Everyone engages in activities that can be a drain on available time. Socializing is an example of an activity that can absorb more time than necessary. Good relationships are necessary in business but when socializing takes too long it can rob productivity. More time can be made available by eliminating activities that aren’t necessary.
- Recognize the Desired Outcome for Activities – Before beginning any activity pause for a moment and visualize what the end result should be. This will establish focus on the objectives to be achieved.
- Set Time Limits for Tasks – Establishing the amount of time allotted for any activity will result in a greater level of focus. This could be likened to renting studio space for an hour in order to create a video. When there’s only an hour better focus and planning take place or the goal won’t be achieved before time runs out.
- Touch Things Only Once – This is a time bandit that often goes unnoticed. A common example of this is writing something on paper then entering it into the computer later. The result is duplication of effort. Another example is adding something to your to do list that can be dealt with immediately.
- Use Boilerplates – If you find yourself communicating the same message again and again set up the text in advance and re-use it when needed. If the necessary information is communicated there’s no need to re-type it every time.
- Clear Your Work Area or Desk at the End of the Day – At the close of business allow for a period of time to organize and clear up open items. Not doing this will put you at a disadvantage at the start of the next business day.
- Plan Your Days in Advance – At the end of the day schedule the activities for the following day. This will put you in a position to be proactive rather than reactive at the start of the next day.