How to improve your time management
- Analyse how you spend your time each day and identify where, when and how you waste it. For example, do you decide to start something but then procrastinate and spend time on irrelevant tasks? Do you allow social calls to interrupt your working day? Do you spend ages looking for telephone numbers or addresses because you don't keep them in one place? Once you've identified the problems, devise solutions. You could, for instance, make a conscious effort to implement your decisions without allowing yourself to be distracted, tell your friends and relatives to call you only in the evenings, and organise a contacts book or database on your computer.
- At the start of each day, draw up a list of tasks you need to complete. Then rank them in order of priority. (You can repeat the same exercise for your longer-term tasks on a weekly, monthly or even annual basis.)
- Train yourself to tackle your priority tasks even if you really don't feel like it. One common reason why we put off tasks is that we're worried about the possible consequences. One effective way of doing this is to imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen. Perhaps you fear your boss might laugh in your face if you ask for a pay rise or a week off at a busy time of year. Once you've got a vision of your nightmare scenario, ask yourself about the likelihood of it actually happening. The chances are you'll realise that it's very unlikely to occur.
- Whenever a piece of paper arrives, make an immediate decision about it. If it needs attention, add it to your list of priorities; if you just need to keep it, file it away; if you don't need it, bin it. If you leave it lying around you'll end up looking at it ten times more often than is actually necessary.
- Complete jobs rather than leaving them part-done. You'll almost certainly get something done more quickly if you give it your full attention rather than flitting from task to task.
- If you're working on something that requires serious concentration, block out as many interruptions as you can. Switch on your voicemail and tell your colleagues you don't want to be disturbed unless there's a stock market crash.
- Delegate wherever possible.
- Build breaks into your schedule. You're not a machine (even if you'd like to be) – you need refreshment and rest. Make sure you take a lunch break and have time to eat before an evening meeting.
Page created on February 28th, 2010
Page updated on March 10th, 2010