Time Management Tips
Do you ever find that you’ve been busy all day but haven’t accomplished what you really needed to do? Do you often feel that you’ve been ‘chasing your tail’ for hours and still have a diary full of tasks to complete? Some people seem to work less and accomplish more, it’s a fact. However, the trick to achieving this is mastering the art of time management. Those people who seem to get more done whilst appearing less busy are often working smarter, not harder than the rest of us.
Spending your time in a whirlwind of activity often results in achieving less. That’s because you’re dividing your time between too many tasks without focus and planning. Effective time management starts with a shift in your focus between being busy and results.
Time management is the process of planning how to divide your time between specific activities. It’s a useful skill that, thankfully, can be learned and practiced. Follow our tips to improve your time management, boost your productivity and reduce the stress that uncompleted tasks and looming deadlines bring to your door.
Top Time Management Tips
Whether you’re planning for the month, week or day ahead, set your goals for the specific time period. When you’re identifying goals, use the SMART method. Set goals that are:
Specific: Be really exact about what your goal is. If the goal is a vague idea of what you hope to achieve, split it down into elements and set tasks.
Measurable: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Make sure you have a clear way of marking the goal as completed. For example, if you have a report to write during the working week, your goal may be to write 1000 words on a certain day. When you hit your target, stop. It’s easy to get carried away with a certain task and devote too much time to it. By ensuring your goals are measurable, your time management improves.
Attainable: Examine whether your goal is realistically attainable. For example, if you’ve decided you want to create a new training strategy for your whole department, do you have the resources to do so, or are you setting yourself up for failure?
Relevant: Take each goal you set yourself and ask the question, is this relevant to what I want to achieve? Be ruthless, if you’re at all unsure if the goal is relevant, eliminate it or put it off for another time.
Timely: Be aware of your capacity. Taking on too much is a sure way to leave you stressed and demotivated if you’re unable to complete a goal. Effective time management requires you to set your own achievable deadlines. Be realistic about what you can achieve in any given time period.
Set yourself tasks for each day and schedule time to devote to each task. Be realistic about timings and ensure you prioritise each task before the day begins. When prioritising, for each task decide whether it is:
- Important and urgent: do these tasks first
- Important but not urgent: schedule a time to complete these tasks
- Urgent but not important: is it possible to delegate these tasks to other people?
- Not urgent and not important: either eliminate these tasks entirely, delegate or put them off until another day.
The process of effective time management includes planning. Utilise your calender for planning further ahead and include deadlines for projects. Planning ahead enables you to determine what time you have remaining to complete tasks and achieve goals. It also enables you to identify when there may be a requirement to delegate or outsource.
Elimination and Delegation
In a nutshell, don’t do more than you have to. Working smarter requires you to identify what tasks and goals are relevant and eliminate those that have no benefit to your overall plan. Also, if you’re able to delegate, do so. The highest achievers are often those who are best at identifying people who are able to help them and delegating the appropriate tasks.
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