What are your best time management techniques?
In most careers, time management is of paramount importance. As your time is a finite resource, scheduling your work in order to stay within budget, within scope and within the deadline can be a gruesome process that often results in sleepless nights and long working hours. How do you do it?
I live by one rue. DON"T SIT ON STUFF! When a project needs to be done. Don't wait for people that are slow movers get it done and do it right.
Get on it knowing that something else will most likely make you have to stop to concentrate on the new situation. Stuff always gets in the way and will. I always meet my timeline for projects. I am typically finished before most in my company to the point that I get calls with people snickering because I finished things faster than others.
There is nothing more valuable than your time.Once it is past you can't get time back. No amount of money in the world can get it back. If you really dig into your typical day, you will realize that there is a lot of down time. If you are having issues there is nothing wrong with taking a step back, or walking a way to think but get back on it.
Plan your day. I get up early, work out, reflect on priors days accomplishments, then plan my day. I only read emails 3 specific times per work schedule daily and I let people even above me know these times. I dont answer phone calls during my important times of the day. Yes I may miss something important, but very likely will that happen.
If something at night is bothering you that is keeping you up. Get up, think about it, write it down for the morning, There is nothing you can do when you are at home in bed.
If you plan to be successful then you should plan for success.
Here is what has brought me success:
1. Plan out the day in advance in the morning or the night before. List everything you hope to accomplish on paper.
2. Put an "A" next to everything that you MUST do that day.
3. Put a "B" next to everything that you SHOULD do that day.
4. Put a "C" next to everything else that would LIKE to do that day.
5. Now, start listing out just your "A" items on your daily schedule. Next, fill in additional space with your "B" items. Finally, your "C" items.
6. DO NOT begin a "B" item until all of your "A" items have been completed.
7. Hint: things like Facebook, email, etc. are almost NEVER "A" items. I usually do not open email until I have spent at least 90-120 minutes in the morning on my primary "A" item.
I encourage you to try this and let me know how it works for you!
I don't believe you can manage time. I only believe you can manage people. So, instead I look at my Return on Time Invested. Each day I do these three things:
1. Only have 3 priority items to get done that will ring my cash register
2. Work on the things that take my true energy and focus first thing in the am
3. Make sure I work in 90 minute blocks completely interruption free - no phones, no email, no distractions
4. Then I take 15-20 minute physical breaks from work
5. Pre-schedule everything on my calendar
6. Ask myself: is this really important to help me/my company reach our financial goals? And if not, don't do it
7. Ask myself: Does this task take me or my brilliance or can it be dumped or delegated?
8. And never ever touch the same paper or email more than once
Hope this helps.
1. Clarify your business "promise" (the unique value you're marketing and selling to your audience).
2. List the business activitie that support this.
3. Figure out which activities ONLY YOU can do.
4. These are the only things that should be in your calendar. The rest should be delegated.
5. When you delegate, consider not only the usual: e.g. bookkeeping and graphic design. Are you a doer who doesn't like to plan? Hire strategic thinking help.
Time management is all about being more productive.
To be great in time management you need to
1) Be proactive.
2) Be a good communicator.
3) If possible trust and delegate. (unless you are the person who is doing everything. Then the time management is slightly different.)
4) Use tools that will help you to be productive.
I would be looking at the things / processes that are draining your time.
And addressing them.
For instances. For meetings.
Circulate Minuit before hand. with feedback before the meeting. that way you only have to address outcomes and actions. and not spend time going over the notes again.
Request short progress reports based only on exemptions to progress.including recommended course of action or countermeasures.
Have small meeting standing up. they always reduce time.
Start and finish your day 1 hr earlier / later. It's amazing what you can do in that time frame.
Set aside a DND time for 1 hr 2 x each day.
Use your email tools to set flags, appointments, tasks and follow ups to your delegation. Let the tools remind you. That way you only have to focus on what is before you, not on what is coming up.
Look at how you can minimize the number of times a document is touched.
Be clear with your directions and expectations. Follow up based on your agenda. Once you have done this a few times, people will get to understand that if you say I want / need this done by Tuesday. Come Tuesday you are looking for it. They will very soon understand that it had better be there by Tuesday am. or even Monday. You should only have to ask Where is it. and why is it not ready. followed by when did you plan to tell me this..
To make time management to work, it must work on both sides. You do not want to be spending time chasing people, however in the first instance you will need to train people, in terms of you mean what you say. And you are expecting on time open communication if the time line can not be achieved. before time.
In short, with time management you get things to work for you. So that you are the master, If not they will become the master, and you will end up being the slave to time. And that will end up with you going faster and faster.
Kobus, delegation is key as Dana said...and in order to determine what needs to be delegated, delayed deleted or done (The 4 D's of Sanity), as I put it... I coach my clients (and myself) to:
- list out ALL of the things that need to be done.
- Identify ONLY those that are tied directly to your goals, deadlines, etc... the remainder go in the delay bucket (meaning you don't need to focus on them). - Then determine those that can be delegated, deleted (not done at all - nice to do's)... and that leaves what you have to do.
- Prioritize those from 1 to.... and focus on the top 3 things that MUST be done to achieve your goal.
- Focus on each until they are 100% done.
This can increase your productivity by 250% or more...
To successfully implement the theories others have suggested, it's important to have good boundaries about how you will or will not spend your time. It helps to be deliberately inflexible in certain situations. Set reasonable expectations with yourself and your clients, and then hold yourself to them. Have clear, up front conversations about timelines. I find this to be especially important with turnaround times. I always ask what timeline my client wants, and I offer something that I know I can give. I do not offer next day turnaround on anything, no matter how small. I also make it clear that if I need something from someone else by a certain time and don't get it, there will be a delay. And check in when that item isn't forthcoming. By doing these things, I am then able to maintain a reasonable set of deadlines for multiple projects and continually make progress on each of them, and I am also able to be more flexible in the moment if something comes up that demands my immediate attention.
I work seven days a week. I take off for my kids whenever I need to to keep a life/work balance. This way I am always sharp at the computer. I read the news in the morning (inndustry, general etc...) watching the news takes too long and is immaterial. My three hours or so a week of reading has kept me in front of everyone for years, everyone asks how do you know so much, coffee, linkedin, and your favorite news links. I never start a task I can't finish. So if I do linkedin maintenance I get it all done. If the task is too big, I create intermediate deliverables and send them out for review which buys me time and improves the quality of the project. This can be used to buy time as well for the overwhelming project. I make sure I visit everything once a week on all projects as this breaks up the monotony.
What I recommend is as under:
Make a list of your to dos and then prioritize them as
1. Can do
2. Should do
3. Must do
Now invert the list and make it happen
1. Take up MUST do first
2. Should do next if TIME permits
3. These two would have taken care of can do!
Try it out and internalize for sustained results.
You get 24 hours every day, just like everyone else. The key is to use those hours wisely. Some of my favorite comments from years of teaching Time Management Strategies in the corporate arena:
* You can't save time - only spend it. So, spend it wisely and keep your ROI in mind.
* Don't say 'I don't have time.', because you do have time. Instead say 'I don't want to spend the time ... '. That's more honest and credible.
* You're in charge of how you spend your time - no one else is.
* Plan each day with a 'To Do' List - plan your work and work your plan.
* Then, rate each task according to how urgent each is and how important. Tasks that are low in importance and urgency are the easiest to dump.
* If you paid yourself $1,000/hour, would you get your money's worth from each task on your list? If not - dump them.
* Ask yourself 'What's the worst thing that can happen if I don't do this thing today? At All?' Then, act accordingly.
Best wishes for becoming a time management pro - Phil Stella, Effective Training & Communication, Inc.
I think that time management is bogus...you cant manage time, it just happens and it is an external force. Self-management is what is important. How do I manage myself with the constraint of time? So I use some simple self-management techniques:
- I develop a clear list of high payoff activities (top 6 things I need to do to maximise my results)
- I create a weekly time picture of those things first (big rocks go in the jar first).
- I then see what time I have to allocate to the other "priorities" of life and business
- I take that time picture then put it into my calendar/diary system (im an old paper-based planner guy still - battery never goes dead on my planner)
- When something comes along to challenge my sense of priorities or my mood at the time, I now have a flexible framework for making values-based decision on the best use of my time.
Mange yourself properly to be effective first, efficient second.
I have seen some wonderful answers so far. That's why I wouldn't give you precise answers, but just some directions which would help you to build your own vision.
As many have already said, time CAN NOT be managed. You manage your behaviour in relation to it and to the external factors. What does this mean?
1. Create goals. You need to create long-term goals as well as short-term ones. Having goals gives you direction and incentivises you not to spill out your time but to work consistently into the direction of your goals. As Napoleon Hill has said, only 1.5 % of people on the Earth have goals.
2. Create to do lists. These are your plans for achieving your goals.
3. Use the MoSCoW technique (this is from the project management theory - Must do, Should do, Can do, as Shivanand already pointed above). That is, prioritise activities and tasks.
4. Be prepared for contingencies Sh*t happens all the time. You have to accept this, there are simply too many factors outside of your reach. FOLLOW THE CRITICAL PATH (this is again from project management). If you see that your schedule is going to be violated, look for options to fix this either by using a back-up solutions or cutting activities up from the critical path. For this you need to create alternatives since the beginning (that is, at the point of planning).
5. Even if you strictly follow all of the rules above, it is still possible for your plan (that is, your time management) to slip away. This is totally normal, so don't blame yourself, just try to minimise the damage and keep going ahead.
Allocate a specified number of hours each day for each task on a spreadsheet at the beginning of the week. Be sure to include the routine activities like email, social media time and other stuff. Complete the small tasks and always do some part of the big tasks until it is completed. At the end of each day review the spreadsheet and note your completions and if necessary adjust the following day's allocated tasks. The spreadsheet management should not take more than a few minutes at the end of each day.
There are two skills to master to be successful. This is advice I was given early in my career. Those skills are time management and communication. There is not a simple answer to your question. What I will say is mastering a to do list is step one. Make sure your to do list is realistic and not a wish list. Schedule time each day for planning, sleep and interruptions. All will occur every day. The other step with a to do list, is PTE, Pure Time Estimate. How long will it take to complet the task you list, uninterrupted. Do that for each task, and add the total. Cannot be over 24. this will give you a start.
I have a multitude of techniques but the best is List everything down and priortise the list from Urgent to None Urgent ! and keep transferring the tasks that you have not actioned to the following day and make sure you do it the following day.
Also SET GOALS!
State each goal as a positive statement - Express your goals positively “I will reduce my expenses by 10% this year", not "I would like to reduce my expenses by 10% this year."
Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you'll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
Set priorities - When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
Write goals down - This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
Set performance goals, not outcome goals - You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! (In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy)
If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
Set realistic goals - It's important to set goals that you can achieve. Other people can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.
I personally love outlines and writing down exactly what I need to get done everyday. I will figure those tasks out by greatest priority first and also how long I presume each to take. I will schedule in more time on each just to be safe. If I finish early then possibly ill dig in to my tasks for the next day or just enough my free time! Organization is key and personally, writing things down and crossing them off once they are complete is a great feeling!
I use a 50 minute dash technique. I set aside two 50 minute periods in the morning and two in the afternoon. I pick one topic for each period. Turn all distractions off - cell phone, email, Facebook, etc. Try to get away to another location so you won't be bothered for 50 minutes and work on that one project.
Take a 10 minute break for calls, email, FB (if you have to) and then do another 50 minute project.
I let my Virtual Assistant do those tasks that I cannot do efficiently or don't want/need to do.
I plan two weeks in advance with a focus on results - what must I do to accomplish the results that I have planned for my week, month, or year.
I use Monday mornings to do this and only schedule essential tasks to accomplish the most important tasks. I carry around a "potential" task list. On this list I write down things that I think need to be done, then with each item I ask if this is the most effective use of my time. If not, I ask if this is the best use of someone else's time. If so, then I delegate the task. If not, then I work to find someone to do or make the task go away all together.
I think we get too balled up with a long list of 'busy work' and not essential activities. Using this method, I find that I don't end up with a list of meaningless stuff creating stress for me as I look at the list.
I hope this helps.
1/ Turn off all alerts to social media - don't allow yourself to be distracted
2/ Don't be busy be productive
3/ Review your activity each week and be ruthless about things that divert your attention from your true objective.
All that said, now going back to work......
I as well as my staff do everything on paper so we all have legal pads this way we can track our progress and we can visually see what we are accomplishing and when once we prioritize everything we have to do we then attack the tasks and complete the tasks without any distractions or disturbances until it is completed