Clear your desk and plan your activities for the next day. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to complete your ‘to do’ list, taking into account your daily interruptions. Try to arrange set times for jobs such as going through the mail, talking with your manager or staff, computer input, etc. Try to fix definite times when you would not like to be disturbed, and make the system work except for genuine emergencies. Plan your telephone calls. Make a brief note of what you want to say and what you want to find out.
It saves time later. If you have several phone calls to make, do them all in a burst. When you start a piece of work, try to finish it without interruptions. If you have to finish it later, you will lose time picking up where you left off. Arrange your breaks at times when you cannot work effectively. Plan some time for discussing routine matters with your colleagues. Then you avoid interrupting each other all the time. Learn to say ‘No’ and get used to asking yourself ‘Am I the right person for this job? ‘
Monitor how you use your time, and make conscious changes to your behaviour. Stress and fatigue are rarely caused by the things you have done, but by the thought of what you haven’t done! Make a habit of finishing the main job of the day before you go home. Establish at the start why they have come to see you and stand when they enter the room, so that they also remain standing. If it’s necessary for you to deal personally with them suggest a later meeting, at your convenience and whenever possible, suggest a meeting in their office.
Set time limits to your discussion and avoid engaging in small talk. If you have a secretary/PA, agree a clear policy about who can have access to you and whom they should deal with. If you really can’t get them out of your office, leave the office yourself! You cannot achieve what you want if your goals have not been set. To be successful you have to have the ability to work out what you want to achieve and then have written goals which can be reviewed constantly. Long term goals should impact on your daily activities and be included on a “to do” list.
Without a goal or objective people tend to just drift personally and professionally. You can do this by constantly asking yourself “What is the most important use of my time, right now? ” It will help to focus on ‘important tasks’ and stops you reacting to tasks which seem urgent (or pleasant to do) but carry no importance towards your goals. I am a firm believer you cannot achieve your goals without a plan. Most people know what they want but have no plan to achieve it except by sheer hard work.
Do a yearly plan which should also be reviewed daily and reset as your achievements are met. Get into the habit of making lists constantly, it enables you to stay on top of priorities and helps you to remain flexible to changing priorities. This should be done for both personal and business goals. Problems always occur, the value of a good plan is to identify them early and seek out solutions. Good time management enables you to measure the progress towards your goals because “What you can measure, you can control”. Always try to be proactive rather than re-active.
Time management (or self-management) is not hard to understand, but unless you are committed to building the techniques into your daily routine you’ll only achieve partial (or no) results. I once heard someone say “I tried time management once and but it didn’t work for me”. The more time spent planning your time and activities the more time you will have for those activities. By setting goals and eliminating time wasters (and doing this everyday) you will have extra time in the week to spend on the people and activities most important to you and your company.