Four Steps to a More Productive Day
Time management is an important life skill that we can all constantly reflect and improve on. Practicing strategies and techniques to manage time enables you to embark on new challenges with confidence. Time management is mainly about controlling your environment, rather than allowing your environment to control you. If you tolerate and allow the interruptions and demands of others then you effectively encourage these time management pressures to continue. Although everybody works differently, the following four steps are a framework to enable you be the boss of your time.
Step 1 – Pay attention
Be aware of your time. Are you spending too long on activities? Keep a record of how long you spend on all your daily tasks for a few days including meals, travel, sleeping and work to see where you are either losing or wasting time. Did you allow a realistic amount of time for activities?
Step 2 – Make a plan
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is important? List the priorities. Break down large tasks into smaller components and set your own deadline – they provide motivation for completing tasks.
- What are the goals are for the week/day?
- How much time does each goal need and when do they fit in to the schedule?
Goals can be listed on a weekly planner and a daily ‘to-do’ list. Make sure you have a balance between work and other activities.
Procrastination is the thief of time ~ Edward Young
It can be helpful to plan for some flexi-time – this is time for the unexpected or tasks that take a bit longer. Although you can not stop interruptions, you can choose how much time you will spend on them to enable you to get through the allocated tasks in your day.
Step 3 – Use systems
Thanks to technology, there are many great ways to systemize everything. There are a number of applications to assist with planning and tracking goals, creating lists and managing income and expenses.
You will also save time and maintain a professional image with templates for processes such as communication (letterhead, sample email communication), planning (agendas, time sheets, meetings, project management) and finance (invoicing, sales forecasting).
Step 4 – Stick to a routine
Set aside definite times for email, social media, phone calls, etc. Create a pattern of expectation at those times. If your time plan doesn’t work straight away, don’t give up. Spend some time to reflect on what happened. Make it work for you.
We cannot control time. Everyone has the same amount of time available to him or her but it is how efficiently and effectively we use it that can make the difference.
What are your time management tips?