You hear it in business all the time: time management, time management, time management! Why is this so important? Because time management really is a critical component of any person’s success. It doesn’t matter if you are a business owner, a manager, or an employee, if you do not properly manage your time, you cannot hope to complete your daily tasks, much less take the business into the economic stratosphere. Following are 11 time management tips but don’t worry. These aren’t the same boring tips you’ll find all over the internet.
1. Let Go of Your Traditional Concept of Time
Time is no longer based on what your clock, watch, or cell phone says. Sure, you might be looking at your computer clock right now and it says it is such-and-such o’clock, and it really is such-and-such o’clock, but that means nothing to you or what you need to accomplish in your workday. Don’t worry about what “time” it is anymore. Understand that now, time to you is broken into three categories: time for thoughts, time for conversation, and time for action.
2. Schedule Your Thinking Time
Any business must have a plan and each person within the business must also have a plan. Whether you are the business owner, manager, or an employee, schedule your daily thinking time first. During that duration think about and plan what you need to accomplish that day and how you’re going to accomplish it, then include the next tip into your game plan.
3. Schedule Your Conversation Time
Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re the boss, manager, or employee, schedule any conversations required to get your tasks done during your morning think time. One major time-suck in life – not just work – is talking. Estimate how much time you spend talking with people. That’s where a majority of your day goes. Schedule talk time and stick to it so you can move on to the next tip.
4. Schedule Your Action
You’ve thought the tasks out, you’ve talked with whomever you need to converse with; now it’s time to get the work done. Schedule time for each action. This isn’t just time set aside for conference calls and meetings. Schedule your actions – the work you must do to complete each task – so you can assure you have plenty of time to get everything done. Use the timer on your cell phone if you must to signal alarms when it’s time to move on to the next step.
5. Keep a Diary of Tips Two Through Four
Keep track of how tips two through four are working for you for a couple of weeks to review where things need tweaking. Obviously, unanticipated situations can put a kink in your time management plan. You can also plan everything perfectly on paper and still have it go awry. By keeping track of how you’re actually spending your time once you scheduled it, you can revise your time management calendar to better disperse time where you need it.
6. Look at Your Diary and Plan Your Interruptions
No time management schedule is going to be full proof, especially if you’re the boss. You are going to be interrupted during your thought, conversation, and action periods, so take a look at how often this happens and then plan for it. Look at your diary and see how many times you were interrupted during your day and the duration of those interruptions, then set aside adequate time each day for interruptions.
7. Be Clear When Time is Not Set Aside for Interruptions
After you’ve scheduled tip number six, let everyone know and then stick to it. When you aren’t available for any interruptions short of your office building burning down, cocoon yourself in your workspace and hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign. There’s a reason why voice mail, email auto-response, and closed doors were invented. Use them so you can complete your action list without interruption.
8. Keep an Open Mind
Nothing is perfect, and your time management plan won’t be either. Be open-minded to your time diary and to the suggestions of others. If you still find your day slipping away from you, even though you stick to your time management plan, talk to the person in your office who always manages to get everything done. Find out how he or she manages his or her time, and incorporate any applicable strategies into your daily plan.
It’s easy to think about consolidating when you’re trying to find room for all of your junk in your garage or attic. If you can combine those three boxes into one, you’ve just saved X-amount of space. Do the same with your workday. Look at your tasks and consolidate the ones that are similar so you work on those tasks at the same time. Once your brain is in finance mode, for example, it more efficient to complete all of your financial-related tasks before switching your brain into a different task mode.
Inevitably, when trying to store all your junk away you end up throwing things out. The same holds true for your time management plan. Once you’ve consolidated your tasks to help your brain operate more efficiently, “throw away” unnecessary steps to maximize your efficiency. Is there a quicker and easier way to accomplish a scheduled task? Eliminate steps to do it.
11. Manage Yourself
You cannot hope to be successful if you don’t manage your personal time, too. This isn’t to suggest you schedule your family time to the point of angering your significant other and children. Nor, should you do this with your friends. Rather, remain cognizant that you need plenty of time for you, too. That includes time to eat properly, exercise, and rest. Yes, it’s quicker to drive through a fast-food restaurant for lunch, but you hurt yourself in the long run if you do. If you aren’t healthy, it doesn’t matter how efficiently you plan your day.
When you consider time as something other than “Is it five o’clock yet?” you open yourself up for a more productive and less stressful workday. At first, your new time scheduling process may seem as if it’s a giant time-suck but stick with it. Once you get the hang of scheduling your time and streamlining your tasks, you’ll fly through your day.
What are some tips you use to manage your time?