Work, family and other commitments can take a huge chunk out of your day. Learning how to manage your time is an essential skill when trying to successfully navigate through the maze of tasks and other items on your daily to-do list. Here are seven timely tips for improving time management and making the most out of your work day.
1 – Meetings rank high on the list of time stealers. Nothing wastes more valuable time than unnecessary meetings. If possible, limit the number of meetings to one per day and only when necessary. Prepare an agenda ahead of time so that the meeting stays on topic. Assign a conscientious timekeeper to make sure the meeting ends at the appointed time. Cancel any unnecessary meetings if the problem can be resolved some other way.
2 – Use a notebook for your list of things to do. Don’t waste time writing lists on single scraps of paper. First, you will spend all of your time hunting for the piece of paper to check items off. Second, the notebook will allow you to keep a record of your daily lists all in one place so that you can see a pattern of your activities.
3 – Use your previous lists of things to do to analyze your work. This will help you to determine where you are spending most of your time. The most critical 20 percent of your work should produce 80 percent of your results. Analyzing your work will help you to identify time stealers that can be eliminated from your routine.
4 – Prioritize your tasks so that you are working on the most important tasks first. The urgency of a task can often be subjective to the originator or the end user.
5 – Finish at least one task every day. Bringing closure to at least one task each day provides a sense of accomplishment. It also helps to reduce stress.
6 – Determine your most productive time of day. Are you a morning person? Do you work best late in the day? Schedule your most difficult tasks during your most productive time for optimal results.
7 – Tame your e-mail. If you find yourself checking your e-mail accounts four or five times a day – stop. Assign a specific time of day to read and respond to e-mails. Customer service is important; however, checking e-mails every 5 minutes is not necessary. Checking e-mails only a couple of times per day will still allow you the opportunity to respond to important e-mails within a 24 hour period.
No matter how you schedule it, there are only 24 hours in a day. Incorporating a few rules into your daily routine will help you to feel in control of your own time and improve your time management.