By Lindy Earl
The title pretty much sums up the gist of this article – which is, after all, the job of a good title. With that said, below are some very specific things to do to help improve your time management and free some time for yourself, with the hope that you will use said time wisely. Choose two or three ideas and act on them within the next 24 hours for best results. Once you are successful with these, you can add more ideas as needed.
1. Declutter your life – your closets, desks, calendars, by THROWING THINGS AWAY. At least one item a day until you’re under control. Once you have a manageable pile, then organize what you have decided you need. You’ll probably continue to toss stuff as you realize that you still have too much stuff.
2. Know Yourself, and complete your Brain work when you’re at your best. Are you a morning person? If so, then use your morning hours for your most taxing work. As much as I love to write, I still tend to work on columns early in the day. I save mindless tasks for later when I’m tired and not at my best. If you’re a night owl, then enjoy your day, knowing you will be burning the midnight oil on the jobs that are simply easier for you when your brain is at its best.
If you are easily interrupted/distracted, set yourself up for success by isolating and insulating yourself by closing your door or working at home—whatever works for you, or starting early or staying late.
3. Make a list! You can’t remember everything that needs to be done and not recalling what needed to be done will stress you as it wastes your time, which adds more stress. Take time to write things down. If you’re a techno person, then use your phone or computer. There is nothing wrong with good old paper and pencil if you prefer. It’s whatever works for you.
3. Take your to do list and ABC it – If it is urgent or important, mark that item A and don’t touch a B item until all your A items are complete. If others need your help, suggest they begin their own ABC list. Helping others may be on your B list, but your work belongs on you’re a list.
4. Delegate – this is what I consider D on your ABC list. Any work that CAN be done by someone else, SHOULD be done by someone else. Save yourself and your time for the jobs only you can do. The joy of being in charge!
5. Take control of your computer – unsubscribe from emails you don’t need no matter whose feelings you hurt; only look at email once or twice a day; use the one-touch rule – either answer the email, forward it, or delete it.
6. Use the one touch rule for everything that comes into your office. It keep you from procrastinating. Definitely use the one touch rule when opening old fashioned snail mail. Toss whatever you won’t need immediately. It never needs to hit your desk.
7. Know your phone is for your convenience, not the convenience of others. Therefore, set ring tones by person (you can hire a teenager to set this up if needed) so you know if you need to look at it immediately; leave your phone on vibrate (to avoid interruptions) and check at your convenience. Limit who texts you by getting a private number. You get a new number if necessary.
8. Have a good organizational system that you USE. Have one master calendar, not small pieces of paper, either in your phone or on paper, but use that system so you don’t miss important meetings. Include items that belong in a tickler file.
9. Schedule time on your calendar for work that needs to be done. After a meeting, schedule time to do the work you know will be created from the meeting. For instance, after a Consulting session, I schedule an hour to create a summary of what was discussed. Save the last half hour of every day to plan and write your To Do list for the next day.
10. Perform the tasks you like the least, first, to get them done and enjoy a feeling of accomplishment. The tasks you enjoy more you won’t mind doing even if you’re getting tired or the day is getting long.
11. Get it done now if it’s a quick project, 10 minutes or less. Schedule it if it’s a longer project.
12. Know your clients and colleagues well. It saves time if you keep notes on likes/dislikes/etc.
13. Learn to trust, as in don’t micromanage. It’s time consuming, wasteful, and rather rude.
14. Develop routines and habits that are efficient and don’t require thinking. Obviously your keys go in the same spot every day so you never use a minute looking for them. Do the same with everything you touch. In your kitchen all your baking items should be together and returned to the same spot after use.
15. NO EXCUSES. They are time consuming. Accept responsibility and move on.
16. Work ahead to not get behind
17. Divide large jobs into small tasks that you can achieve one piece at a time. This allows the job to not be overwhelming and you can find lots of half hour time slots, but few four hour time slots.
18. Implement a few of these ideas before the end of the day for immediate results.
19. Spend found time on yourself and your family, not working more.