Time Management: Getting the Most Out of Every Day
By Paul Bryce
Do you ever find yourself getting to the end of your day and you haven’t done the things you set out to do? Do you sometimes wish there were more hours in the day? Are you one of the many who “burn the candle at both ends,” wearing yourself down in the process and still not getting the important things in your life done?
If you experience overwhelm at the sheer magnitude of things that need to be done, or you find yourself procrastinating, you may be suffering the effects of poor time management. This article introduces 4 keys to getting started with effective time management and a simple 5 step tool to manage your daily tasks.
Time management gurus are everywhere, telling you how to make the most of the time that you have. The problem for many people is that no matter how many books they read or courses they attend that promise to teach them how to manage their time, not a whole lot happens! They still have a seemingly never ending “To-Do” list, paperwork and e-mails pile up and they seem to have to spend more time at the office than ever before. And then there are those who seem to glide through their day effortlessly, leave on time every day and never take work home. So, what’s their secret?
There are four key things you need to do so that you can get more out of your day in less time and less energy.
1. Get organized. As simple as this may seem, it can be a daunting and difficult task in itself. You need to take some time out though and concentrate on getting your workspace set up in such a way that you have the resources you need available when you need them. Have you ever watched a master chef at work in the kitchen? Everything is in its place, within easy reach and ready to be used. The same principles apply to your workspace at the office, home or anywhere you “do stuff” (yes, that includes the garage). This is also a good time to de-clutter your physical life and get rid of unnecessary distractions.
2. Start with the end in mind. This goes beyond goal setting and is about your personal vision–the big “why” that is your ultimate purpose. Having this clear in your mind will help direct your energy and assist you in making decisions.
3. Manage your workflow. Every day we are met with a barrage of smaller tasks and interruptions that we haven’t planned for on top of those that we have planned for. The key here is how you respond to this stream of demands on your time. It is vital that you learn to manage interruptions such as unexpected visitors, phone calls, e-mails and the like. Other ways of managing your workflow include effective delegation, a systematic method for processing new information, requests, or demands for your time.
4. Tool up! Get some really effective management tools in your repertoire that will make it easier for you to manage your workflow and get the most out of every day. These can include; effective goal setting and achievement tools such as SMARTA, project management, planning and e-Tools such as eMail and calendars.
One workflow management tool you can use to great effect is ADAPT. You can apply ADAPT to every task that you are faced with;
A - Act. If the jobs needs doing and you have everything you need to get it done, then there is no time like the present.
D - Delegate. Okay, so the job needs doing–but ask yourself this; are you the best person to be doing it? Consider the amount of time that you would put into it versus the outcome. How valuable is your time? Does this task need you to do it? Will it take you another step closer to your goals?
A - Ask questions. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out what someone really wants, or how to get something done. If you need clarity around something, ask the questions and defer this task until the answers come back. Remember that there is little point in meeting a deadline if the result is of poor quality because you didn’t have the right information.
P - Plan it. If something can’t be done right now, or can’t be delegated or you are waiting for an answer then put this task into the future. You can do this really well if you use a calendar or diary effectively.
T - Trash it! There are many distractions that are just that–an irrelevant interruption that you just don’t need (think junk e-mail). Don’t bother with these, just dump them and get on with what really counts
This should get you started with really effective time management. As you put these tips into practice, you will start to feel more fulfilled and notice that you are getting more out of every day.
There is so much more to time management than just these few tips though, and I encourage you to attend a workshop or webinar where you can explore more techniques such as SMARTA VIEWS CALL (my extension to the traditional goal setting tool that also focuses on achieving your goals). Remember, breaking old habits isn’t easy so start out by getting clear on your reason for wanting to change and then take things one step at a time.
Paul Bryce is a highly regarded leadership consultant specializing in management and executive coaching at Cobalt (http://www. cobaltpd.com.au). Paul can also be heard on a variety of podcasts speaking about leadership and management issues as well as having a number of published articles available.
Cobalt Coaching works with senior and mid-level executives, managers and business professionals at all levels of leadership. Our coaching process is designed to assist them in developing their existing capabilities and adopting the strategies necessary to become as effective and successful as possible.
Our coaching process recognizes and delivers highly flexible and unique coaching which is entirely dependent on the client. A customized approach is essential to the success of a coaching program. We see coaching as a powerful and effective development tool to facilitate the leadership development of an organization’s leaders and future leaders.
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