I’m betting that during any given day you have tens of places to be, and hundreds of jobs to complete. Indeed, your days are probably something of a logistical nightmare, with spare moments occupied by schedules and to-do lists. How you manage your time can greatly affect your success, and your business’s productivity. Indeed, unless you’ve got a time machine up your sleeve great time management is probably your best weapon in your fight against your in-tray.
These top tips for great timekeeping, and time management, should stand you in good stead for increasingly productive weeks…
This one goes without saying, but make sure you know what time it is. There’s a good chance that a sizeable chunk of your day is going to be dictated by deadlines, meetings, and appointments, so it’s essential that you’re mindful of the time. Most of us will rely on a watch, or the clock on our phones or desktops. Ensure yours are synchronized, so you’re never late again.
Getting organised is the key to great time management. After all, how can you arrive anywhere on time if you’re not actually sure where you’re supposed to be? Become accustomed to carrying a diary or organiser around with you, and log each appointment as it’s agreed. Set yourself a reminder on your phone, or personal tablet, if you must. If you’re particularly forgetful add meetings and appointments to a desktop calendar, and an electronic calendar. Well, you can never be too careful now, can you?
Understanding your workload is vital for great timekeeping. Do you know how you use each hour of your day, or how much time certain tasks take to complete? Once you’re able to understand your schedule and the kind of work you can complete in any given period, you’ll be able to organise your workload accordingly. Many people who fail to keep time do so because they have no comprehension of where that time actually goes. Understanding your own abilities, and the time it takes to produce results, will help you to banish those more unproductive moments.
If you’re anything like me your ‘to-do’ list is probably longer than your arm, and growing steadily as the day progresses. How do you add to that list? Are jobs prioritised in order of their importance or the time they take to complete? Do you add to your schedule as you think of new projects? Start treating your assigned tasks as appointments, and schedule times to complete them, or at least give them your attention. You’ll notice that your time management improves once you’re able to focus on the task at hand – and give those important matters your full attention.
It’s all very well if your day runs to plan, but what happens if a last minute, urgent project is thrown your way? Do you have enough hours in the day to complete that too? The key to success is to plan your day with allowances for breaks and interruptions. Rather than running to the wire, ensure you’re always working with a spare hour or two in the bank. Spread out across the day, this time can be used for that urgent conversation your colleague needs to have, or the unforeseen project.
If you spend the majority of your day making phone calls get used to planning what you’ll say, and pre-empting the kind of response you’d favour. Working in sales your ideal result is likely to be a sale or a solid lead, for example. Rather than wasting precious time ‘uhming’ and ‘ahhing’ during your phone call aim to know exactly what you’d like to say, and how you’ll counter arguments, beforehand. The more efficient your calls, the more productive your day is likely to be; it’s a case of taking time to save time in the long run.
Above all, leave yourself plenty of time, every time. You may think that you’re being productive by multi-tasking and squeezing numerous jobs into a single afternoon. However, all you’re likely to be doing is causing yourself confusion and making someone else more work in the long run. Would you rather do a single job well, or several jobs so poorly that you’ll need to re-do them tomorrow? Great time management needn’t be hard, as long as you’re able to take the time now to get everything right.
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