Time management is about making conscious decisions about how to spend your day. It involves accepting that it is not possible to do everything you might want to do and deliberately concentrating on the most valuable activities. For example, in your home life you might want to mow the lawn, read a paper and go to the gym, but there is only time for one of these activities. Choosing one means leaving two undone. Choosing wisely, then, is the essence of time management. There are a number of guidelines that can help us to understand the key points of time management, they include:
- Know your priorities
You can only make good choices about what to do and what to leave undone if you know what is really important to you in your personal and business life. Take the time to ponder deeply about what really makes you happy and fulfilled, and then choose to align your daily actions with this overall sense of purpose.
- Manage your energy levels
Taking time for rest and play is not a luxury but a necessity if ‘burn out’ is to be avoided. Clearly, attempting a task when jaded or fatigued is unlikely to produce good results or make for an enjoyable experience. Good time managers therefore make regular exercise, a sensible diet and a good night’s sleep their key priorities.
- Have a daily ‘to do’ list
Make a list of tasks for the day and allocate a specific time in the diary to do each task. Make sure at least some of the tasks reflect your priorities.
- Don’t over-schedule your time
Allow space between meetings to write minutes or take actions, leave 50% of the day unplanned to take account of unexpected events.
Assess the current situation
Reflect on your current approach to time management. Think about the four statements above. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be? Think about what evidence you have to support this view. Think about asking for feedback from those you work with and your family or friends. Decide what changes you want to make and set yourself a goal(s).
Loehr, Jim & Schwartz, Tony - On form (the corporate athlete),
Nicholas Brealey Pub. (2003)
Uses the metaphor of an athlete to explain the importance of energy, rituals and routines in time management.
Kennedy, Dan - No B.S. Time Management for entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur Press (2004)
Practical tips and advice on goals setting & prioritising.
Identify from these books what you want to put into practice.
Discuss your thoughts with your line manager/mentor.
Identify other books that may be helpful to you.
Watch other people
Identify individuals in the organisation, who you (and/or your line manager/mentor) consider role models in this area. Observe how they manage their time. How does what they do compare to what less effective people do? How does what you see relate to your approach?
Allen, David - ‘Getting things done’
Simon & Schuster (2002)
3 CD’s on how to plan and organise in a way that handles excessive work demands.
Then - Most importantly
Go through the steps shown in the How to Use Our Tutorials page to really cement and develop what you've learned into a useful part of your business skill set.
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