Are you managing your own time or is it managing you? The world today demands instant communication 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Technology allows you to communicate and access information and news instantaneously. You may feel that you need to be available at any time of the day and respond immediately. This results in you having many more demands on your time, making it much more challenging to manage your time and to be able to focus on the most important things for you. This may make you feel out of control, anxious and distracted, and not able to give anything or anyone your full attention.
So how can you manage your time, rather than letting it manage you? Here are 12 tips to help you manage your time effectively:
Have a look at a typical day or week and track how you are spending your time and what you achieved. Are you looking at your social media and getting distracted? Are you looking at your emails and messages as they arrive and trying to deal with them immediately? Are you giving people and tasks your 100% attention? Are you multitasking? Are you allowing interruptions or distractions? What did you want to do that never got done?
Go through the communication you received and consider how much of it required an immediate response. How important was the communication? Did you need to look at social media when you did? Did you need to keep checking the news on the internet or TV? You may have dealt with something, but it may not have been urgent or important, distracting you from a much more important task.
If you are not in control of your time and feel you have no choice you will feel stressed, angry, frustrated, and probably helpless. You will also find that you are not achieving your business and personal goals. You will be more productive, feel calmer, and achieve more if you take back control of your time and choose what you do and when you do it.
Be clear about what you want to achieve at work and in your personal life. Prioritize your goals and plan what you need to do and when.
Be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t forget to allow time for not only tasks but meetings, phone calls, and ad hoc issues. A great question to ask when planning is ‘What is the next most important thing I need to do to achieve my goals?’. Also, don’t forget to update your plans as things change.
Limit your to-do list to a small number of the key things that will enable you to achieve your goals. If you could only do three things what would they be? This also has the added bonus that you will feel good when you actually complete your to-do list each day.
At the end of each day plan what you are going to do tomorrow. This will not only improve your effectiveness but create an ending to your day. This is a great thing to do before you leave work as rather than taking everything home with you in your head you will have had time to think and plan your next day properly.
Consider how you can work smarter not harder whether this is through automation, getting help, limiting some tasks, or finding more efficient ways of doing things.
Allocate specific times each day to answer your emails, messages, and phone calls and to access social media. Maybe choose times when you are easily distracted e.g. first thing in the morning, after lunch, and the last hour of the day. At other times in the day 100% focus on your planned activity.
Do you need to be accessing the news every minute of the day? Do you need to check your work emails when you are at home? Do you need to have your mobile switched on by your bed at night? You may find it hard at first to turn communication and technology off because you are so used to it being on all the time, however, turning it off will give you more choice and control as to what you do with your time.
Aligning the tasks you do each day to your body clock will enable you to maximize your effectiveness. If your best time for planning is in the early evening plan it in then. If your concentration levels are lower in the morning at work then use that time for meetings, phone calls, and emails. Consider the week and month overall. Which are the best days or weeks for different tasks? Making simple adjustments to when you do things will pay dividends to your time management and how you feel.
How often do you give a person or task your full attention? How does it make you feel when other people are checking their phones or laptops during meetings or answering their phone when they are supposed to be talking to you? Give everything you do your 100% attention and see what the results are? You will find that you are more satisfied, calmer, more productive, and more likely to achieve your goals.
You can learn how to manage your time effectively with one of our online time management courses on the Michael Management platform. We have two courses available Time management for Business, aimed at business owners, directors, and managers, and Time management for Life, for everyone else.
Hopefully, the above ideas will help you to manage your own time rather than allowing it to manage you.
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