Squeezing a quick coffee in, rushed telephone calls with friends, a quick sandwich at your desk? Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly-met deadlines, the endless emails, the piles of files needing attention on the desk, the frantic race to the meeting… What an adrenaline buzz! G U I L T Y!!
The problem is that an “addiction to busyness” rarely means that you’re effective, and it can lead to stress, too much stress. Does any of this sound familiar?
Instead, try to slow down, and learn to manage your time better. Lets talk time management.
14 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
Have you ever wondered how it is that some people seem to have enough time to do everything that they want to, whereas others are always rushing from task to task, and never seem to finish anything?
Is it just that the former have less to do? No, it’s much more likely that they are using their time more effectively and practicing good time management skills.
Time management is not very difficult as a concept, but it’s surprisingly hard to do in practice. It requires the investment of a little time upfront to prioritise and organise yourself. But once done, you will find that with minor tweaks, your day, and indeed your week and month, fall into place in an orderly fashion, with time for everything you need to do.
The key to good time management is understanding the difference between urgent and Important.
‘Urgent’ tasks demand your immediate attention, but whether you actually give them that attention may or may not matter.
‘Important’ tasks matter, and not doing them may have serious consequences for you or others.
This distinction between urgent and important is the key to prioritising your time and your workload, whether at work or at home.
Here’s the 14 Top Tips:
- Turn off email for a limited time during each day (e.g.1 hour/half or a whole day)
- Do the things you don’t like first to get them out of the way
- Set goals for the year/month/week/day/hour
- Allow double the time you think you need for most tasks
- Let go – allow others to do the things you are not so good at
- Question yourself ‘do I really need to do this now/at all?’
- Be clear on the outcome you want before you undertake anything or meet with anyone
- Use Skype or other free online tools for meetings
- Focus on achieving one thing at a time – you are more likely to achieve a good result quicker
- Identify and minimize / eliminate your time thieves
- Avoid contact with negative people – surround yourself with successful, happy, positive people who will inspire and motivate you
- When arranging any meeting/Skype, agree a time for the meeting to end so that you can plan your day
- Be realistic when setting goals – use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely)
- Prioritise what you do and when. Use Coveys 7 Habits time management grid
MORE BONUS TIME MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES
BE CLUTTER FREE
For some of us, clutter can be both a real distraction (see procrastination) and genuinely alarming.
Tidying up can improve both self-esteem and motivation. You will also find it easier to stay on top of things if your workspace is tidy.
If you have a system where everything is stuck on the fridge or notice board pending action, then take off anything that doesn’t need action and/or has been dealt with! That way, you’ll be able to see at a glance what needs doing, and you’ll be less likely to miss anything.
Create 3 piles: Keep it, Give away, Throw away
PICK YOUR MOMENT
All of us have times of day that we work better. It’s best to schedule the difficult tasks for those times.
However, you also need to schedule in things that need doing at particular times, like meetings, or a trip to the post office.
Another useful option is to have a list of important but non-urgent small tasks that can be done in that odd ten minutes between meetings: might it be the ideal time to send that email confirming your holiday dates?
If a task is genuinely urgent and important, get on with it.
If, however, you find yourself making excuses about not doing something, ask yourself why.
You may be doubtful about whether you should be doing the task at all. Perhaps you’re concerned about the ethics, or you don’t think it’s the best option. If so, you may find that others agree. Talk it over with colleagues or your manager, if at work, and family or friends at home, and see if there is an alternative that might be better.
DON’T TRY AND MULTITASK
Generally, people aren’t very good at multi-tasking, because it takes our brains time to refocus.
It’s much better to finish off one job before moving onto another. If you do have to do lots of different tasks, try to group them together, and do similar tasks consecutively.
RELAX AND BREATHE
STAY CALM! Feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks can be very stressful. Remember that the world will probably not end if you fail to achieve your last task of the day, or leave it until tomorrow, especially if you have prioritised sensibly.
Going home or getting an early night, so that you are fit for tomorrow, may be a much better option than meeting a self-imposed or external deadline that may not even matter that much.
Take a moment to pause and get your life and priorities into perspective, and you may find that the view changes quite substantially!
The Master Fixer
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