The Steve Miller Band sang, "Time keeps on tickin', tickin', tickin' into the future." Well it's true. No matter how much money each of us have...No matter how much we have to do...No matter what our job titles are, we ALL have 24 hours in a day. No more, no less.
That is why making the most of the time we have is so important.
Kirsty Dunphey recently wrote some great stuff regarding managing our time:
"Until you value yourself... you will not value your time; until you value your time... you will not do anything with it." - M. Scott Peck, Author
Time management, as anyone who works with me would know, is one of my big complaints, issues, concerns. It's also one of the most frequent things that people rate themselves lowest on in things like performance reviews.
Today I want to provide you with some simple tips to improve your time management, efficiency and productivity that work for me. Fingers crossed and there may be a few here that work for you too!
1. Eliminate these words from your vocabulary: "I don't have time." This one's a tough one, and although this is one of my aims I'll admit that sometimes they do slip out, but my aim is consistent - to eliminate them. The next time you go to say those dreaded words, just remember - you have exactly the same amount of time as everyone else, you have exactly the same amount of time in your day as the Olympic swimmer who gets up at 4am, you have the same amount of time in your day as presidents and world leaders who run entire countries. Eliminate the words because what you're really trying to say is: "I don't want to make time to do that," and that's quite alright too! The next time you go to say “I don't have time,” imagine if that task you're saying you don't have time for was a family member at a hospital - you'd have time to get there, so what you really need to decide is, "Does this deserve my time?"
2. It's an oldie but a goody - start each day by getting rid of your most despised task. Nothing ruins a day like dreading a task you have to do later in the day.
3. Set rewards for yourself if you can achieve all your tasks, find out what motivates you. For me - it might be that if I can get through these three hard tasks I can eat some of the doughnuts that one of my team brought into work today. Another great thing about that reward is that if I procrastinate - the doughnuts will be gone! Another great thing to do is to buddy up with someone and become accountability partners for getting your tasks done.
4. Unless you have the world’s best memory (I don't), make lists. When someone gives you a responsibility, write it down, whether you record it in your phone, your organizer, email yourself, write it on the back of a napkin - it doesn't matter how, write it down! Nothing's worse than the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night thinking - oh no, I forgot to do that.
5. I've never been a huge believer in labeling tasks A, B, C, in order of their importance. I've tried this system and it doesn't work for me - of course that doesn't mean it won't work for you. What I try to do instead is what I call Little Things First. What this means is that when I get an email, if it's small or has a small task, I'll get rid of it quickly rather than continually come back to it over and over again. I have many recurring tasks in my diary and the small things on my list are gone by about 10:30am usually, leaving me the bulk of my day to work on larger projects.
6. Set or get deadlines for your tasks. When setting yourself a task or getting one from someone else - always find out when it needs to be done. Then diarize an appropriate amount of reminders before the due date.
7. Work/life balance seem to be the buzz words all over the world at present - but you really do need to put time and energy into this area. Schedule in time to relax, time with family, time reading, time with your partner - if it's in your diary and you are committed to it, you're less likely to neglect it.
8. My desk at work is my haven. My trays work for me. Now I can't tell you what the best desk system is for you, all I know is that if yours doesn't make your day easier - change it, constantly change it until you get something that works. For me, I don't allow anyone to put anything on my desk. My assistant is allowed to put things in one tray and one tray only, everything else is put in my communal pigeon hole. I have a single out tray - this simple tray stops me from getting up 20 or 30 times a day as much of what comes in to me needs to go elsewhere in the office. I have a tray full of non urgent things to read, when I get time, I start going through it. I have a tray full of things I'm waiting on others for and I have an email folder full of these sorts of emails - my diary prompts me with a recurring reminder to check through these two areas. Whatever works for you, works for you, just take some time to find it!
9. Don't be afraid to ask for help. What's worse - asking for help once or doing the task incorrectly or incompletely 5 times, or even worse, hiding the work! It happens, don't be a victim of the "scared to ask" disease.
10. Your mind isn't a computer, use your computer to help your mind become like one. Each week on a Friday a little reminder comes up in Outlook telling me to send out my weekly email. Each week on a Wednesday I'm told I have two meetings first up. You're not a machine; use your technology to its best advantage.