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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are You Managing Your Time Correctly?

Are You Managing Your Time Correctly?
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, May 28, 2010—Do you have a million things to do, but don’t know where to start? Time management is key to an effective and success business.

Here’s some advice on how you can begin to manage your time better and leave yourself with more time in the long run:

Be prepared to make drastic changes. Be creative to find and introduce different ways of doing things. If you need a starting point see the 80:20 Rule, to assess what efforts and activities are most productive, and which are not.

Manage your emails and phone calls - don't let them manage you. Ideally check at planned times, and avoid continuous notification of incoming emails.

The more senior you are the more selective you need to be about when to be available to receive phone calls.

Try to minimize the time that you are available to take unplanned phone calls, unless you are in a customer-facing, reactive role (customers can be internal too), and even if you are customer-facing, you must plan some time-slots when you are not available, or you'll never get anything important and pro-active done.

Challenge your own tendency to say 'yes' without scrutinizing the request - start asking and probing what's involved - find out what the real expectations and needs are.

Really think about how you currently spend your time. If you don't know, keep a time log for a few days to find out there's a free time management time-log template tool here. Knowing exactly what's wrong is the first step to improving it.

Challenge anything that could be wasting time and effort, particularly habitual tasks, meetings and reports where responsibility is inherited or handed down from above. Don't be a slave to a daft process or system.

Review your activities in terms of your own personal short-term and long-term life and career goals, and prioritise your activities accordingly.

Plan preparation and creative thinking time in your diary for the long-term jobs, because they need it. The short-term urgent tasks will always use up all your time unless you plan to spend it otherwise.

Use a diary, and an activity planner to schedule when to do things, and time-slots for things you know will need doing or responding to.

Re-condition the expectations of others as to your availability and their claim on your time - use an activity planner to help you justify why you and not others should be prioritising your activities and time.

Manage your environment as a whole - especially at the proposed or actual introduction of new systems, tools, technology, people, or processes, which might threaten to generate new demands on your time. If you accept changes without question - particularly new technology that helps others but not you - then you will open the way for new increasing demands on your time, or new interruptions, or new tasks and obligations. Instead consider new technology and other changes from the point of view of your time and efficiency. Ask yourself - is this going to save my time or add to my burden? Managing your environment - which includes managing, redefining, or reconditioning the expectations of others - is a critical aspect of effective time management.

You must plan time slots for unplanned activities - you may not know exactly what you'll need to do, but if you plan the time to do it, then other important things will not get pushed out of the way when the demand arises.

Use the 'urgent-important' system of assessing activities and deciding priorities. See more at the new time management section.

When you're faced with a pile of things to do, go through them quickly and make a list of what needs doing and when. After this handle each piece of paper only once. Do not under any circumstances pick up a job, do a bit of it, then put it back on the pile.

Do not start lots of jobs at the same time - even if you can handle different tasks at the same time it's not the most efficient way of dealing with them, so don't kid yourself that this sort of multi-tasking is good - it's not.

Be firm and diplomatic in dealing with time allocated for meetings, paperwork, telephone, and visitors, etc. When you keep your time log you will see how much time is wasted. Take control. Provided you explain why you are managing your time in this way, people will generally understand and respect you for it.

Keep a clean desk and well-organized systems. Don't be obsessive about tidiness - busy people often make a mess - but ensure your mess doesn't undermine your effectiveness.

Delegate as much as possible to others. If you have one, give 25% of your responsibility to your successor.

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