It’s 8/8 so let’s review 8 ways to improve your time management.
It doesn’t matter what company you work for — self-employed, small company or large corporate environment. If you don’t have the soft skills that make you able to handle a very large work load you will be replaced by someone who does.
- Don’t leave email sitting in your Inbox. The ability to quickly process & manage information & turn it into actions is one of the most important skills you can have in business. Organize email in file folders. If it needs more thought, move it to your to-do list. If it’s for reference, print it. If it’s a meeting, move it to a calendar. One thing young people are great at is only touching things once. You don’t see young people scrolling up & down their email pretending to work. Take action ASAP.
- STOP multitasking! Multitasking is so 1990’s & it’s deadly. It decreases everyone’s productivity. No matter who you are. You can multitask breakfast — but it’s just breakfast. It is impossible to do 4 very important things at work effectively. Stay on task, you will be much more productive. One thing at a time.
- Do the most important thing first (Brian Tracy says: “eat the frog first”). This is a great idea because even if you can’t get the whole thing done in an hour, you’ll be much more likely to go back to it once you’ve gotten it started. This works best if you organize the night before so when you sit down to work you already know what your most important task of the day is.
- Check your email on a schedule. How much can you really get done when you read & answer every email as it arrives? Just because someone can contact you immediately does not mean that you have to respond to them immediately — a lot of the time. People want a predictable response, not an immediate response (within 24 hours is usually acceptable). As long as people know roughly when to expect an answer & they know how to reach you in an emergency, you can answer most emails 2-3 times a day.
- Learn how to say, “NO”. Did you know it is OK to tell a co-worker NO? It’s OK to say, “I am in the middle of something important now… can I help you at 3:30?” Totally acceptable. Stop chasing the shiny balls that other people in your organization have on their plates. Know your work-load & get it done. There will be time to help others. Being “jealous of your own time” is one of the most valuable characteristics you can have in 2017.
- Make it easy to get started. Usually, we don’t have problems finishing projects — we have problems starting them. Make a “shallow on-ramp”. The key to creating the “on ramp”: break up projects into chunks so you aren’t overwhelming. Remember writing a book report in school? (Outline, introduction, body, etc.)
- Organize your to-do list every day (tasks or calendar). If you don’t know what you should be doing how can you manage your time to do it? Some people like writing this list out by hand because it shows commitment to each item if you are willing to rewrite it each day until it gets done (& physically checking it off the list is rewarding). Other people like Calendar or Tasks. Makes no difference – just do one of them.
- It’s OK to think things through & be slower. Remember that a good time manager actually responds to some things more slowly than a bad time manager would. For example, someone who is doing the highest priority task is probably not answering incoming email while they’re doing it. Obviously, there (usually) are more important tasks than processing email. Be disciplined. Think it through.
It’s a fine list. The only way to make it finer is to follow it. Got time?