Having formally introduced the concept of time management in my last blog, let's look at how to improve in this area using simple and straightforward ideas.
Planning and prioritising
Planning and prioritising your tasks and activities is simple, but firstly you need to create a to-do list. To-do lists are a great way of planning the tasks you need to do (funnily enough!) - if you keep on top of them and use them correctly that is.
It is important that within your list you prioritise and schedule tasks by asking yourself the four whats:
What are my short term goals?
What tasks are most urgent?
What are the most important?
What can be left for another time?
Once you have established these, you should rearrange your list with those most urgent first, followed by those that are important and then those that can be left till later. You need to give your tasks allotted times that fit in with your schedule and most importantly these need to be achievable!
A good idea is to identify the blocks of time at which you are most energetic/creative and do the most crucial tasks then. This may be eight in the morning for some people and seven at night for others, but whenever you work best you should be doing your key tasks then.
It is essential to have a diary or time sheet of some kind, or try an electronic calendar on your e-mail account or mobile phone. Whichever method you choose, make sure that you use your diary to record your to-do's, appointments, deadlines etc. Make sure your lists are clear and legible so you actually know what it is you are doing and avoid any confusion later on.
At this stage you know what you need to do next, you are armed with a plan and you are about to do everything in the most efficient and effective order. However, if you are torn between two vitally urgent and important tasks is there anyone who can assist you? Can you delegate?
If you have checked your iPhone/Facebook/Twitter account more than once whilst reading this blog you are definitely at risk of time stealers. Beware of these and ensure they are under control, because they could be distracting you from the job at hand.
Whilst the techniques discussed might not be for everybody, they should provide you with a strong starting point for enhancing your time management. Remember that when you are at your most efficient, there will be plenty of time for rest, relaxation and having a good time away from the workplace!