Life is busy, there is never enough time in the day and I never seem to be making much headway. A feeling oh so familiar to many of us.
Effective time management can lead to reduced stress, better work-life balance, and an enhanced sense of accomplishment. Here’s a few thoughts and tips that will help you take control of your time.
At Think Differently Group we are always talking about the need for a good clear plan to keep you on track to achieve your goals.
If you have worked with us before you will know how you can break your Strategic Goals down into annual and 90-day goals and from there into your 90 day action plan. Break this further into your working week and your working day to provide you laser sharp focus for what you need to do that week.
Every time you get another task or seemingly important issue to deal with ask yourself if it will help you progress towards your goals for the week. This helps to focus your efforts and prevents you from falling into the trap of just being ‘busy’ without making real progress.
Forget the To-Do list and embrace the Stop-Doing list.
Be critical and aware that all tasks are not created equal. Over time we develop habits of doing certain tasks because they seem to be important or because we view them as urgent.
Over the period of a working week record in some detail the tasks that you are busy with during the day then categorise them as ‘urgent’, ‘important’, ‘not urgent’ and ‘not important’. Focus on tasks that are both important and urgent and remember that urgent does not always mean important. If it is not urgent and not important ask yourself why you are doing it.
We live in an age of constant and increasing distractions, where the ‘ping’ of a new email or social media notification can easily sidetrack us. Manage distractions by switching off your notifications during work hours and instead schedule in times to check on messages and emails when it fits in to your work schedule.
Embrace the ‘No’
Nobody feels comfortable saying ‘no’ but one of the most effective time management strategies is learning to say ‘no.’ Over-committing leads to stress and reduces your productivity which in turn leads to even more stress and further reduces your productivity. Avoid entering a stress and overload spiral by respectfully declining tasks or engagements that don’t align with your goals and priorities. So be absolutely clear on the priorities and free up time and energy for what truly matters.
Delegation is a vital tool, particularly for leaders. Understanding that you can’t do everything yourself and entrusting tasks to others frees up your time for strategic tasks that require your unique skills and abilities. Effective delegation is an art form and something that is worth studying to make sure that you are on top of your delegation game – check out some valuable tips and links to further reading here.
As incongruous as it may appear you will have more time if you take a break, there is plenty of research to show that regular breaks boost productivity and creativity. Maybe get up and practice a bit of MBWA (Management By Walking About).
Keep at it.
Remember that effective time management is not a one-off task, but an ongoing process. Continually evaluate how you spend your time, identify time-wasters, and refine your strategy. It’s about progress, not perfection.
If you still can’t see the hours for the minutes reach out for help before it starts to get on top of you and have a chat with your Business Coach.