After being asked by numerous business clients and individuals how I manage my time I decided to write a piece on time management, giving the main tips on how I manage my time personally.
Some of the tips below may seem trivial and maybe things you have heard before however, the trick to it all is to actually practice them and not just read and store for another day 😉
I recently had a manageress of a medium sized business with multiple branches across South Africa tell me they have recruited graduates with the intention of hiring them in full time positions provided they passed certain criteria during a training and evaluation period.
She went on to tell me that one of the main problems she was facing with the trainees assigned to her was to do with time management. They were not keeping to deadlines and even though she spoke to them and advised them as best she could, including giving them cut off times during the day for handing in client reports they were still late.
Even though they were new to the working world, this was posing a problem for her and impacting on delivery time to clients. So she asked me what my advice would be and I gave her the following guidelines,
1. The first thing that needs to be assessed is do you\your employees have the correct technology to perform tasks timeously, i.e. laptops, cell phones, internet connection, software, etc… (especially for people travelling to client sites)
2. Another excellent tool, especially when starting out to optimise your time is to draw up a simple spread sheet time table listing the days of the week broken down into time slots (30 or 60 minute slots – which ever suits your situation). This time table should be carried with you for at least 2 weeks and you should fill in through out the day what you spend your time on as well as when. What this does is give you an opportunity to analyse where your time is being spent and allows you to see what is actually taking up most of your time and how to better plan your day by grouping or eliminating certain tasks.
3. Leading on from point 2 it is advisable to keep a personal time table which allocates times in a day for certain activities\tasks i.e. admin, clients, quotations, lunch breaks, email, etc… I even go as far as having rules as to when I switch of my laptop off and stop checking email. Sounds ridiculous, trust me its not. These types of rules allow you to have a better work life balance. Remember you also have a social life and family, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy! or Jill a dull girl J
4. The next and last important step is to plan, plan, plan,
4.1 Keep a current to do list.
4.2 If items on the list are older than 2 weeks remove them, as it’s probably not that important, makes your list look much longer than it should and if it needs completing will definitely make its way back onto your list at the right time.
4.3 Set a limit and prioritise! I use the page rule, if I start running out of lines on a page, typically 25 tasks, that means I need to remove some tasks to make space for new important priority tasks. So what is your limit?
4.4 Take 5 minutes at the end of everyday to plan for the next day, listing your most important tasks to be completed.
4.5 Chose 3-5 tasks that are important and accomplish them in the next day as part of your planning, no matter how small or large the task is, so long as you keep to completing a set number of tasks a day, you will see your list getting shorter and shorter to a point where you only have a few days worth of tasks on your list.
4.6 Neaten your desk\work area before leaving for the day. A clean, clear and organised work area will allow your mind to focus and have a clean, clear, organised day when you arrive the next morning 🙂
Use these time management tips and let me know how it works for you. I am confident it will assist you in managing your day better and allow you to feel more confident that you can accomplish your tasks timeously with the proper planning.
Remember that everything does not need to be complete at once. The aim of time management is to create a manageable day with an end in sight, allowing for better work life balance and not to make time for more tasks!!!