“Time is what we want most, but what we spend worst.” – William Penn
In a world of distractions and people demanding our time and attention, time management is something many of us find challenging. Time can disappear quickly on activities that are not productive, profitable or beneficial to your business.
In order to focus your attention, there are several mental techniques you can develop to assist with improving your time management skills.
Set daily goals and makes lists
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” – David Allen
Before you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning, decide on your main objectives for the day: what you need to achieve and what you would like to achieve if the time is available. Prioritise your objectives. When you arrive into work you will have your list to help you stay focused, as you will no doubt be greeted with further items to be added onto your must-achieve and would-like-to-achieve lists.
Making a to-do list not only ensures you don’t forget anything but also provides a sense of achievement when you complete them and tick them off the list. It provides a tangible way to see how much you have still to do and keep track of the things that you’ve already done.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
Planning is key to your time management success. In business, you are often under pressure to make decisions, hit sales targets, meet deadlines, check paperwork, deal with customers and suppliers, all whilst managing staff and watching your bottom line. Without planning your day and your workforce, you can find yourself doing the things others should be doing and not doing the things you should be doing.
Setting your daily goals and making your lists will help with the planning process, prioritisation of your objectives and ensuring your day goes smoothly. Plan times throughout the day to deal with the unexpected issues that may arise, and ensure that you only deal with urgent matters as they arise. Non-urgent issues can wait until your specified time. If no issues arise; you will be able to achieve your list quicker than anticipated.
The key to planning is to ensure you stick to your plan.
Set yourself deadlines
“Remember that time is money.” – Benjamin Franklin
Some objectives and tasks may inherently have a deadline, however, for those that don’t why not set yourself a deadline. Knowing there is a deadline often motivates you to complete your task, so set yourself deadlines when you are making your lists and planning your day.
A deadline can help to overcome procrastination, identifying the urgency and motivating you to complete the objective. Whilst setting deadlines is a great idea, this will only work if you are committed to sticking to them. This time management hack will have no value without discipline.
“Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.” – Pandora Poikilos
It is human nature to undertake the objectives we enjoy or think are easy to achieve; it‘s also human nature to procrastinate over those tasks we don’t like or find challenging to achieve.
Energy is often wasted worrying and thinking about the objectives we have to achieve. This energy is often more than the energy actually needed to complete the task. The objectives will still need to be achieved and whilst you procrastinate you will not be able to focus, consciously or unconsciously, on other tasks and objectives on your list. Always complete each objective in the order of priority on your list; this will help you avoid procrastination.
“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” – Timothy Ferriss
Whilst many of us think we are good at multitasking, often we’ re not. We are often less productive when we multitask. By making your lists, prioritizing your objectives and setting your deadlines will help you avoid multitasking. Multitasking uses energy that can be better used by focusing on one task at a time. It can often be stressful to juggle your objectives and tasks, making you less productive and organised. So why not focus all your efforts and energy one objective at a time and cross them off your list before you move to the next.
If you don’t manage your time properly you can become overwhelmed and feel you never catch up with everything you have to do. This can result in working longer hours and not giving yourself the time to do the things you really want to do.
One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time. Author Unknown
Minimise the distractions you have around you. Distractions in the workplace can result in all your planning, prioritising and list making futile.
In business, everyone wants to talk to you, whether it is an employee, a customer or a supplier, so it is essential to restrict access to you.
It is hard to regain focus when you have been distracted by personal interruptions and easy to become distracted by personal calls and emails. So make it a rule that you only read personal emails or take personal calls during your coffee break or at the end of the day.
Ignore social media at all costs unless it is work related.
At the end of your day reward yourself for achieving your objects in the timescale you set. In managing your time effectively you will you have the time to relax, unwind and do the things you want to before you have to start the process once again. Getting into the habit of managing your time effectively will soon become second nature.