Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to have more time to get things done? Somehow they seem to have more than 24 hours in their day or can magically slow down the clock! Well…they don’t have access to a magical power…they simply manage their time well.
Time Management for me is a work in progress – however, researching it and living it in order to train it has helped me to identify some key tips and techniques which I would like to share with you…so if you have the time, read on…and in the interest of time I have listed just my top 5 tips…
1. Write a “to do” list
Many times, people have given me this piece of advice – but, you know what, it works! It keeps you focused on what you need to get done as well as being very satisfying when you tick things off the list! I also found it helps to detail more – for example adding the steps that you need to complete to actually tick an item off your list (a mini list if you like). This serves as a plan for the day, week etc – and allows you to prepare. So when I have a day of research and writing coming up I can plan things around me – like an early night, a relaxing bubble bath, getting all the tools I need ready, clearing my desk – the preparation helps me focus and gets me in the right frame of mind. It also helps to eliminate the procrastination of a task when I actually come to do it. I have a small whiteboard in my office on which my live to-do list exists. I now use it every working day and it also allows me to note things as they come up so I can rest easy that I won’t forget
2. Make appointments with yourself
Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s – I have been guilty of giving up my time all to easily. So I plan ahead with my diary and book out appointments with myself to get tasks completed. The key here is to treat that appointment like any other – ie don’t cancel it at the last minute, allow plenty of time and respect it. I go as far as to say in my calendar what that appointment is for – so I remain on task. If I don’t complete the task, I will book a follow up!
3. Know your peaks and trough
Mark Twain said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, its best to do it in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs it’s best to eat the biggest one first”. He makes the point that it’s a good idea to get the most challenging thing out the way first – I have worked with many a salesperson that will cold call in the morning! However, I would go one further than that. Work out when you are functioning at your best – that may well be in the morning – but when? An early bird may be at their best very early – whilst others peak after their morning coffee. Or you could be a night owl and function best later in the day. Whenever it is – use this time wisely. Make that call, write that report, have that meeting – whatever it is that will need you to be the best version of yourself, use that peak time to do it.
I have found it hard to let go of tasks – thinking that no one will do it quite like I will – but you know what – that’s ok and I have found it’s often a blessing. Around me I have some awesome people with incredible talent. They do things differently to me – and more often than not, better. This allows me to play to my strengths whilst they play to theirs. I have recently discovered the joy of a Virtual Assistant – someone with an incredible skill set, a can-do attitude and a dedication to the task that is second to none. This has had a major impact on freeing my time up whist the projects and tasks that my VA has taken on are completed in a timely and professional manner (and to be honest they may even be things that I never really got round to doing but always knew I should).
5. Get organised
On average we spend 2.5 days per year looking for misplaced things…astonishing! Be it a physical item you want to refer to (eg a book) or a digital document, graphic, article etc. create a home for everything. I have a set of shelves for things like paper resources (eg workbooks, quizzes etc) with an indicator of a coloured tab to remind me when to action a re-order/reprint etc – I also have a decreasing count of each pile after realising how many times I count what I have got sat there! Then online I have folders for not only clients but topics – eg Time Management. When I come across a resource, article, video clip etc I will put it in there – for future reference. I also bookmark key I websites etc for easy future reference.
On the same topic I operate just the one calendar (online) – would you believe I used to have online and a paper-based diary that I carried – duplicating constantly and doubling my workload to boot! Now I can access my calendar, task list and any other key data from anywhere – and I have given access to that to those that need it – eg my team and my family which saves an enormous amount of time, and sanity, repeating myself over and over again!
I would estimate that the implementation of just these five tips has saved me in excess of 3 hours a week – add that up and it equals 156 hours a year / 6.5 complete days! Ummm…now how to use that time…pass me the brochure on Fiji…