- Find out where you are wasting time. Many of us are prey to “time bandits” — time-wasters that steal time that could be used more productively. Try to track your activities to see how you are spending your time.
- Be sure your systems are organized so you don’t waste time looking for files on your computer. Take the time to make a good file management system. If your filing system doesn’t work well, you need to reorganize it so you can quickly find what you are looking for.
- Don’t waste time “waiting”. Always take something to do with you, such as your own reading materials or a report, a checkbook to balance, your to-do list. Use your phone’s capabilities while you wait to check your email, etc. Keep your focus on what is important.
- Make “To Do” lists. Include a few short tasks to make you feel good about getting them off your list. Check off completed tasks.
- With your “To Do” lists, do what is most important first and keep working on it till it is done. Then go to #2, etc. What’s at the bottom of the list probably is not important.
- Use the “Time Box” method. Only allot yourself so much time to discuss something or do the task at hand. If you don’t finish, then put it aside and come back when you schedule another “Time Box.”
- In order to try to complete something in a “Time Box,” try to look at the “big picture” and avoid getting involved in the detail items. If you can complete your task by working at the “big picture” level, then you can finish and move on to something else.
- Set interim deadlines or targets to get smaller pieces of tasks completed. Having deadlines often helps to meet them and make progress on a task. Breaking a task into smaller pieces with multiple deadlines also helps to get things done.
- Keep a detailed and updated calendar.
- Always being on time for meetings and insist others are respectful of everyone’s time when appointments and meetings are scheduled, by showing up so that we start on time, or calling if there will be a delay or cancellation.
- Set aside specific times to do email and voice mail so it isn’t a constant interruption.
- Remember, people are more important than papers.
- Put out the biggest fire first.
- Purchase a Blackberry (a/k/a a crackberry!).
- Discard or cancel any junk mail. It’s a time-waster.
- Allow time to de-stress too….. get up and stretch!
- Use your cell phone to conduct business when possible while traveling in the car, but be careful … no texting, it’s against the law in Maryland now!
- Start the day by spending time on the most difficult or unpleasant task, and then moving onto other things. It helps to keep things from becoming an emergency later.
- When interrupted while trying to meet a deadline or while rushing to a meeting, etc., tell the person, “I have a project that needs to be completed today. If this is not urgent, can we schedule a time together later?” Or say, “Can Mary or someone else help you now?”
- Schedule time for yourself EVERY DAY. Try to schedule lunch and a “quiet time” each day on your calendar. Vary when the “quiet time” is scheduled so it is not the same time every day.
- When sending an e-mail that needs follow up, blind copy yourself. Do not delete the blind copy from your inbox until you know the task is complete
I want to thank the managers who sent me these time management tips and strategies.
Hopefully, this varied list of ideas will be helpful to you as you try to manage your time well today and in the days ahead! Also, please feel free to share some of your best time management tip in the “Comments” section below.