If you find that you are late, stressed, and just seem to have trouble getting things done, chances are you need to brush up on your time management skills. Getting buried under piles of work happens a lot; life gets busier than you originally thought, things pop up, and postponements and cancellations make it almost impossible to keep up without good organisational skills. Even those who have solid time management skill can make room for improvement.
The Pareto Principle says that 80% of all of the work you do in a day gets completed in 20% of your total work time. Just imagine how much work you could complete if you could double that 20%. To help you achieve this goal, there are five basic skills associated with time management that will give you more control and prevent you from putting things off.
Set the Right Goals
Everyone starts his or her day off with a goal. Some set a goal of just getting through to the workday while others set out with the goal of getting everything done in one day. They are goals, but they don’t do much in terms of time management; the first goal has no substance while the other has too much.
In order to save you time, every task needs to be a clearly defined goal so that you always know exactly what step to take next. Whether you choose to use money, time, size, or some other system, any goal you set also needs to be measurable. This way, you always know whether or not you are on track and what level of success you have achieved in terms of getting there.
Every goal needs to be realistic and have a definite time frame. This way, you always know precisely how much extra time you have and will find it easier to push yourself to meet your deadlines. Finally, whether tasks are written in a day planner or in CRM software, be sure to keep track of your goals in great detail so you can refer back to it. You will know if you are on target and if you have satisfied all of the requirements for that particular job. When unexpected work comes up, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly when and how much time you have available.
Use a Priority System
Assign each task a priority to help you decide what you should be working on and when. Otherwise, you might end up working on something you don’t need until the end of the week only to discover the job that needs to be done in an hour hasn’t been started yet.
There are many different ways to prioritise – you can colour code each task, assign each one a number, or write everything on to a board and use fancy tacks or magnets. So long as everything has a priority and you know how to tell the difference, you will stay organised and meet your deadlines.
Make Good Habits and Set Up a System That Makes Time to Waste Time
Good time management requires you to get into the habit of using some sort of schedule that you have with you all the time. As soon as you are given a new task, set up your goal and write it in your day planner or schedule. You also want to make sure completed tasks get marked off, so you can see what you have left and get the satisfaction of taking it off the list.
Be sure to schedule time in your system that allows you to look after the things that waste time. Everyone loses valuable time performing basic tasks such as looking for contact information, dealing with interruptions, or waiting for additional information. A scheduled ‘wasted time’ segment eliminates time loss because it limits the time spent and prevents stopping and starting while in the middle of a task. You will also need time daily and weekly to keep your organisational systems up to date.
Always Look to Improve
Even time management experts are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their productivity, and why not? The more productive you are, the more profits you make and the more important you become to the company. Keep track of everything you do each day and how much time you really spend on each thing. Then, you can look back on your day or week and see where you can do better. Cutting out distractions and limiting the time you spend on each one is the best place to start.
Time management skills are most important when your days become overly busy. Unfortunately, this is when most people toss these skills aside. To be the most productive, make prioritised goals, enter them into a schedule on a regular basis, and always look to improve. Solid time management skills let you get more things done in less time making your job easier and more successful, and therefore, everyone wins.