12 Time Management Tips
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1. Set Goals
- What are your main aims in life?
- What are your five year aims?
If you knew you only had six months to live, what would you do with them?
2. Use the 80-20 Rule
A few critical efforts (around 20 per cent) usually create the bulk of results (about 80 percent). Also known as the Pareto Principle.
3. Have a 'Things to Do' List
Keep, and revise daily, a list of the tasks that you have to do. Prioritise them using the system shown below.
Prioritise your tasks using the following system:
A - Tasks which are Important and Urgent
B - Tasks which are Important but not Urgent
C - Tasks which are Urgent but not Important
D - Tasks which are neither Important nor Urgent
Then deal with the tasks in the following way:
A's These are your to priorities which should be done first.
B's You should do these quickly because there is a deadline to be met. Do not spend a lot of time on them. Get them out of your way, or if possible, delegate them.
C's You should start to work on these tasks as soon as you can.
D's These tasks can be dealt with in three ways:
- Do not do them if they are really a waste of time.
- Delegate them.
- Forget them until nearer the deadline.
Also see the Importance-Urgency Matrix.
5. Recognise and Eliminate Time Wasters
It is best to identify the specific events and activities that rob you of your time, but here are some examples to get you started:
Unclear objectives and priorities:
- No daily plan of activities.
- No self-identified deadlines.
- Unclear/lack of information.
- Cluttered desk.
- Complicated or non-existent filing system.
- Disorganized office.
- Lost documentation.
- Paper shuffling.
- Junk mail.
- Red tape.
- Unnecessary/poorly-managed meetings.
- No breaks.
- Prolonged or excessive breaks.
- Irrelevant conversations.
- Unexpected visitors.
- Unexpected/lengthy phone calls.
- Unnecessary travel.
6. Know Yourself
- High and low energy times. Are you a lark or an owl?
- When you need to be alone.
- When you need to be with others.
7. One Hour of Planning Saves Four Hours of Work
Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to saw down a tree, he would spend five hours sharpening the saw. Although this might be a bit excessive, there is no doubt that planning and preparation can save a lot of time.
8. Use a Calendar
If used properly, a calendar is an excellent planning tool. Most people just use a calendar for meetings and appointments, without planning how they are going to use the rest of their time. Use your calendar to allocate time for planning, preparation and contingency. Have one calendar for social and one for work life. Keep a telephone list with your diary.
9. Prepare Your Telephone Calls
- Group your calls.
- Make a note of what you want to say.
- Find out when people are most likely to be at their phones.
- On reaching the number you want, state who you are and the purpose of the call.
- Don't hang on (and listen to jingling music) - offer to ring back at an agreed time.
10. Handle Each Piece of Paper or Email Only Once
Always do one of the following:
Take complete action, or process the task as far as you can before filing for future action.
Read then file or throw away.
Put lengthy articles or messages into a 'Reading' file to read when travelling or any other appropriate time.
The bin is the file for unrequired mail. Ask yourself the question, 'If I hold onto this will I ever read it or need it again?' If the honest answer is no, bin it.
11. Use Meetings Effectively
- Have an agenda (with clock times) purpose and outcome.
- Display the agenda.
- Be on time. Only attend items requiring your involvement.
- Don’t have a meeting if you can accomplish what you want by other means.
Delegation is an even more important skill if you have no-one working for you! You have to .be very creative in using your boss, colleagues, agencies, typing pools, message services, consultants, services etc. When you are delegating, remember to:
- Identify the task.
- Decide what should be delegated.
- Identify the right person.
- Explain why you are delegating it to them.
- Specify the expected outcomes.
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