Time Management – 10 Areas to Improve

21 Jun 2016

Conflicting demands, inadequate assertiveness, entrenched  habits – and the sometimes incomprehensible or erratic expectations of others,  all put us under stress.

Improve your time managementFrom time to time we all find themselves saying ‘there are not enough hours in the week’ and this is particularly the case when key tasks and major deliverables and important diary dates (like holidays) clash.   Prioritizing important task over urgent is often a cases of awareness.  Managers who manage their time effectively almost exclusively prioritize tasks and areas of focus; they work on ‘over the horizion’ tasks most days, as well as on ‘urgent’  requests that present themselves.

As you read through the lists below, look out for ideas that you know will help.  Put at least one idea into action TODAY and plan when to act on others. The more self disciplined you are, the greater your success will be at improving your time management.   Good luck :-).

1. Telephone
• Keep calls short; stand during call
• Start by announcing goals for the call “We need to set up a meeting date/time”
• Have something in view that you’re waiting to get to after the call.

2. Email
• E-mail notifications are an interruption and distraction – open and close Outlook only three/four times during the day. Deal with emails then. Manage other’s expectations.
• Check if you can deal with it in two minutes, reply there and then.
• If the response would take longer, consider calling the person to reply – it can often save time in the longer run
• Set up a rule to direct all cc and bcc emails in a ‘Read Later’ folder

3. Scheduling Yourself
• Find your dead time. Schedule meetings, phone calls, and mundane stuff during it
• Add ‘Prep Time for X’ to your diary and
• Everything you do is an opportunity cost.
• Learn to say “No”, “Not now”, “Not yet”

4. Prioritise
• Use MS Outlook (or equivalent) as calendar, prioritised action list. Sync with all your other devices
• Keep your TO DO list ordered by priorities (not due dates)
• use Michael Linenberger’s Urgency Zones  – my pdf version is available on request – email business at blue-quay.co.uk

5. Know when to say Yes
• Will this help me achieve my objectives?
• Will this help me get promoted?
• Will this help me get my bonus?
• Keep “help me” broadly defined
• Reinforce behavior you want repeated

6. Assert yourself with Gentle No’s / Cutting Things Short
• “I’ll do it if you can’t find someone else”
• “I’ll be your deep fall back,” but you have to keep searching.
• “I’m in the middle of something now…”
• Start with “I only have X minutes” — you can always extend this
• Stand up when you want to bring conversation/meeting to an end, walk towards door, summarize, thank, end

7. Thinking it through
• What am I doing that doesn’t really need to be done?
• What am I doing that could be done by someone else?
• What am I doing that could be done more efficiently?
• What do I do that wastes others’ time?
• What is urgent, not urgent, important, not important ?

8. Delegation
• Delegate tasks that stretch and develop others
• Grant authority with responsibility.
• Explain the relative importance of this task – this is the ‘why’
• Choose things you can accomplish more quickly or better with help
• People rise to the challenge: Delegate “until they complain”

9. Meetings
• Average manager spends > 40% of time in meetings (How valuable are yours in terms of achieving your objectives?)
• Divert the landline phone. Silence mobiles.
• Maximum of 1 hour per meeting
• Prepare: there must be an agenda, planned outputs and inputs
• Have those present take turns in recording meeting notes
• Only record and track decisions made in the meeting, who is responsible? by when?

10. Technology
• Don’t let email be a reason to avoid ‘talking’. In general, people with good relationships with others are more effective in influencing, leading and achieving.
• Before you send an email, ask yourself, would they respond better by phone or a quick meeting ?
• Cross connect your SM so that one message distributes to several other platforms

 

 

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