Time Management Tips
I’ve been following a rich discussion on Time Management on the T&D Training and Development LinkedIN group. One of the group members recently asked if there was a good way to capture all of the great time management tips located within the discussion. So, in the interest of Time Management, I took it upon myself to synthesize and organize the contributions. I will try to keep it updated as more comments are added.
Quick Time Management Tips
- Create schedules – when you will do email, return phone calls, or “get work done”
- Keep track of how long things take so you can plan accordingly
- Know when you’re at your best – do the work that requires the most attention at this time
- Prioritize – every morning ask, “What is the most important thing to do today?” Or, “If I get nothing else accomplished today, what is the most important task today I need to accomplish today!” (Michael Woodard)
- Create time-logs so you know where your time is going
- Distinguish “want to” from “have to”
- “It is not about managing your time, but about managing priorities; we don’t lack time, we lack direction. The key is to distinguish the ‘vital few’ tasks from the ‘trivial many’ tasks.” (Matthew Moxon)
- Track progress daily
COVEY’S “THE 5 CHOICES”
- Act on the important, don’t react to the urgent
- Go for the extraordinary, don’t settle for the ordinary
- Schedule the big rocks, don’t sort the gravel
- Rule the technology, don’t let it rule you
- Fuel your fire, don’t burn out
More info here.
- FOCUS – Use 60-minute focus sessions
- Put a price on the cost of meetings
- The Dreaded Task
- set a 5-15 minute timer and work on one aspect of the task for that designated amount of time, without interruptions (no phone or email except for emergencies)
- “Eat the Frog” – do the dreaded task first thing in the morning
- The Whiteboard Grid – One technique I find highly effective is to divide a large, prominently displayed whiteboard into sections for all the important parts of my role. For example I have sections for dealing with email, marketing, CPD, and so on. At the end of every day, use the board to review the day’s activities and put a green happy face (or whatever) for all the ones where something has been achieved that day, and a red unhappy face (or whatever) for all the ones no-one has done anything. Great for focusing on what’s really important and no To-Do lists. (Richard Andrews)
- TRACK – ANALYZE – SET GOALS: TRACK how you *currently* spend your time (log all activity in an Outlook calendar using categories such as “professional development”, “reading email”, “telecommuting”, “vacation”, “one-on-one support” etc. ); ANALYZE the calendar by exporting it to Excel and use data functions to calculate the amount of time spent on each category; finally, SET GOALS (after looking at how you currently spend your time, re-evaluate your schedule and set goals to better plan your time). (Debra Dexter)
- Create free, “open-door” times
- Establish rituals for certain repeated tasks
- Think of time the same way out do investment of money
- Learn to say “no”
- Create and stick to schedules
- Focus on “self-management” not “time management”
- Talk less, listen more. Don’t gossip.
- Give problems cooling down time before you tackle them.
Understand the challenges of delegation. Sharon Gander captures them like this:
- Many (most) of us are individual contributors with no one to whom we can delegate
- Even those who have someone to whom they could delegate are not good at doing so.
- The “stuff” we could delegate is often the stuff we enjoy doing and have no desire to delegate
- We don’t like to ask for help on the stuff that we find difficult, even though it may be that someone else loves to do that stuff and would love to be asked to help out
LISTS AND LIST ALTERNATIVES
- Create a To-Do list DAILY
- Forget “to do” lists, and instead create “results” lists (Duncan Brodie)
- Instead of notepad lists, try “sticky notes.” They let you skip around if needed, and they can be color-coded.
- Use the Time management 2×2 Matrix of importance and urgency. Focus on the “important” quadrants, not just the urgent ones. (Steven Covey)
- Use filters and file folders to move content by sender or topic
- If you have a secretary, teach them how to “triage” your email
- Have yourself taken off distribution lists you never read
- Go to work an hour early to clear out overnight emails.
- Schedule times to look at email . . . don’t check it every 10 seconds!
Resources and Models
Understand it as SELF-MANAGEMENT not TIME MANAGEMENT and take the time to Assess yourself!
- Identify your personal time robbers (procrastinating difficult work/creative work? ineffective \ delegation? inability to say no to requests? poor meeting management?)
- Determine goal setting and goal attainment capability (failure to identify goals? failure to set priorities against goals? too many or poorly written goals? failure to determine if activities connect to an important goal?)
- Recognize and capitalize on your peak efficiency hours (are you doing the more difficult work during peak times?)
- Set boundaries (establishing a start/stop time for the day? managing interruptions – emails, phone calls, visitors, meetings?) (Karina Napuri)
INFRASTRUCTURE vs. REVENUE vs. STRATEGY. Tracy Gravensande credits Shirlaws Business Coaches with this method: look at how you spend time based on three areas of business – Infrastructure (cost based activities), Revenue and Strategy. Each type of activity requires a different energy level. By organising based on these categories I have found that my energy levels aren’t as undulating as they were before I began to use this technique – when I would be working on admin activities for half and hour and then moving on to revenue and back again, etc. This has certainly led to increased productivity and better results all round. (Tracy Gravesande)
In addition to the time management tips above, these time management activities can raise awareness and initiate rich conversations about the use of time.
- Icebreakers: Start with an ice-breaker where each team member shares their best practice as it relates to time management. You may want to give the team a heads-up on this request so they can think about it before the session. This type of exercise begins the workshop on a positive note while offering meaningful tips in the context of their own work environment. (Jill McGillen)
- Mayo Jar: Read more about this visual example of using rocks, pebbles, sand, and water to fill up a mayo jar.
Brain Science of Procrastination
Time Management Activities (including the “Jar Illustration” mentioned above)