Time management isn’t a seminar you attend or a book you read. Time management is a process that must be engaged every day to be effective. Some of the most frustrated, disorganized people in any office are the ones with the most time management books on their shelves.
It’s not that these books were ineffective. Rather in their frantic workday, these people “didn’t have time” to read the time management books! In the interest of keeping it simple, these tips could set you on the way to getting serious about time management as you see the value unfold:
1. Get a day planner and use it faithfully. No more sticky notes with reminders and appointments scattered around your desk, car and refrigerator at home. Keep all appointments and reminder in just one place, your day planner.
2. Create a daily “to do” list. If you do this on your computer, you can easily move around items as you prioritize the day. If on paper, you can code the items with numbers or letters for: Urgent, Need to Do Today, Can Do This Week.
3. Read your To-Do list first thing in the morning. Don’t touch newspaper, open email or answer the phone until you see the road map for your day.
4. Review your To-Do list at mid-day and end of day to see what was accomplished and what remains to be completed.
5. At the end of the day, transfer the items remaining to tomorrow’s or Monday’s list. If possible, remove any items that are not significant.
6. Delegate as much as possible to an assistant, colleague or associate. If you work independently, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant for a few hours per week. The price is right and there’s no obligation as with hiring an employee. This is particularly effective if you travel or spend much time outside the office.
7. Attend only the meetings that are absolutely necessary to do your job. Avoid any meetings that you can. Unless a meeting is run well with an agenda, there is usually wasted time chatting.
8. Close your door when you are focusing on a task or put up a sign on your cubicle asking people to stop by later when you are finished with this work.
9. Let voice mail answer your phone while you are focusing on an important task.
10. Say “no” as often as possible when you have reached your work limits. That means saying no to overtime or taking work home. When you are mentally or physically exhausted you don’t do your best work and you need to say so.
It’s easy to stay on track with time management once you commit to changing your daily habits. Just put the above tips into action and you should see more free time throughout your day.