The whole essence of time management is productivity. You can attend all the seminars you want or read all the books ever published on the subject, if you ain’t getting productive on a regular basis, then you are not managing your time effectively.
You must engage time management every day to be effective. Some of the most frustrated, disorganized people around are the ones with the most time management books stocked on their shelves.
It’s not that these books were ineffective.
Rather in their frantic workday, these people “did not have time” to read the time management books or put them into practice!
Sometimes though, it may be that what those books and programs recommended are unnecessarily complicated to practice. In my experience, I have found that keeping it simple is often more effective. It’s not about the complicated theory, it’s about the ease of practice.
In the interest of keeping it simple, these tips could set you on the way to getting serious about time management as you see the value unfold. Apply or integrate them into your daily plans and boost your productivity:
- Get a Day Planner and use it faithfully. No more sticky notes with reminders and appointments scattered around your desk, car and refrigerator at home. Keep all appointments and reminder in just one place, your day planner.
- Create a daily “To Do” list. If you do this on your computer, you can easily move around items as you prioritize the day. If on paper, you can code the items with numbers or letters for: Urgent, Need to Do Today, Can Do This Week, etc.
- Start your day with your To-Do list. Not Facebook or twitter. Not email, phone or text. Do not check the news until you see the road map for your day.
- Review your To-Do list at mid-day and end of day to see what was accomplished and what remains to be completed.
- At the end of the day, transfer the items remaining to tomorrow’s or Monday’s list. Review and remove any items that are not significant. And if you keep transferring the same item for more than three days, ask yourself a serious question: to do, or to trash?
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. Since the last I checked, you’re not a superwoman/man, then please, for heaven’s sake, delegate whenever feasible. Don’t try to do it all. If you work independently, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant for a few hours per week. The price is right and there’s no obligation as with hiring an employee. This is particularly effective if you travel or spend much time outside the office.
- Attend only the meetings that are absolutely necessary to do your job. Avoid any meetings that you can. Unless a meeting is run well with an agenda, there is usually wasted time chatting. See my take on meetings as time-waster.
- Close your door when you are focusing on a task or put up a sign on your cubicle asking people to stop by later when you are finished with this work.
- Let voice mail answer your phone while you are focusing on an important task. That’s why voice-mails were invented.
- Say “no” as often as possible when you have reached your work limits. That means saying no to overtime or taking work home. When you are mentally or physically exhausted you don’t do your best work and you need to say so.
It’s easy to stay on track with time management once you commit to changing your daily habits. Just put the above tips into action and you’ll have more productive days.