Five Tips on Time Management

These five tips on time management boost your personal time management skills and get things done. They give you organizing and productivity advice to increase effectiveness and reduce stress.

Do you want to be more productive and organized?

Is your day a whirlwind of activity but with little at the end to show for it?

Are you looking for strategies to make better use of your time?

Are you stressed and pressured by a lack of time?

These are some common symptoms that time management tips could address.

However, you don't learn time management at school!

You may get some time management at work tips...BUT you are expected to manage huge workloads and get things done from day one!

The ability to manage workload in a timely and effective manner makes or breaks your career.

These tips on time management increase your productivity and reduce your stress.

1. Where are you wasting time?

When I ask people in time management workshops about the pressures of time, many will respond that "I can't get enough done in the day" or "I am constantly busy and stressed."

Are you looking to make a change, but you don't know how?

Often a first step in learning time management skills is to get objective data about your time usage.

We are prey to many time-wasters - activities that steal time when we could be spending it more productively.

And we may not even be aware of these time-wasters!

Too much time on email, long-winded phone calls, surfing the net - all fine to do unless you are stressed about a lack of time and these activities aren't your objectives.

If you are a knowledge worker I have found that free time tracking software is helpful in tracking your time usage.

Alternatively, download a time management log and gain a picture of your time - the first step to improving your personal time management.

2. Develop a time management plan

One of the top tips on time management is to plan.

If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.

With the pressures of clients, your boss, and the looming deadline, you might be asking "How can I find time to plan?"

But planning is crucial for your success - whether it is long-term planning such as personal goal setting, or daily planning in your to do list.

By having a plan you ensure that you have your top priorities written down.

Even if you deviate from your plan (which you surely will) at least you can come back to it.

While planning occurs at many levels - yearly, monthly, or daily - one of the simplest and most effective time management tools is the daily planner.

By keeping a prioritized 'to do' list in your time management planner, you identify your priorities and ensure that you don't overlook things.

TIP. Spend 10 minutes a day writing your daily plan. Try to be as specific as you possible and ensure you get your high value activities in your plan.

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3. Be ruthless with your priorities

With hundreds of emails clogging your Inbox, with news to read and phone calls to take, it is difficult to stay ahead and focus on your priorities.

One of the top tips on time management is to stay focused on your priorities, ensuring that you do the most important tasks for you and/or your job.

This is a defining characteristic of successful people.

Effective people schedule their priorities to ensure they get done what is important to them, rather than responding to lower priority tasks.

But how to do this when we live in a world in which priorities appear to change on an hourly basis?

While there is no one best system for prioritizing - your priorities can be built upon:

  1. developing a priority system for your obligations and incoming tasks.

    I like to use the Pareto principle as my guide for setting priorities.

    Look at your activities that you have to do. Define which 20% of activities yield 80% of the results and then focus on those activities.

  2. being able to defend your priorities.

    With so much to do and competing demands on your time, you need to be able to defend your priorities.

    This can be done by defending your priorities with your job objectives or your own personal goals.

    I talk more about this at how to set goals.

  3. developing a plan at a weekly or daily level to ensure you schedule your priorities.

    You improve your personal time management by mastering this skill.

4. Check the email on your schedule

Do you respond to email as soon as possible?

Are you tempted to give an immediate response?

Email has the potential to dwarf all other forms of business communication.

On average people read and respond to email for 2 hours everyday.

An analysis of 500,000 PC-user hours by Rescue Time (a time management software company) suggests that the average worker checks emails up to 50 times a day.

While email is a great productivity booster, it is also a time-waster if used incorrectly.

It is not effective to put down your top priorities to check an email as soon as it arrives.

One effective way to manage email is to check email on a schedule - say 3 times a day. This allows you to re-prioritize your obligations based on demands.

I talk more about taming the Inbox with these email etiquette tips.

These tips on time management will streamline your Inbox and make you more effective.

5. Focus on your priorities and delegate tasks

Probably one of the most underutilized yet most talked about time management tools is delegation.

Whether you are a small one-person business or a major business, delegation frees up your time to focus on your top priorities and is a training opportunity for colleagues.

One good way to think about delegation is to know how much your time is worth with this time management exercise.

If you earn $10,000 a year, your time is worth about $6/hour and at $50,000 a year your time is worth about $30/hour.

This helps you prioritize your tasks, determine whether to outsource and/or whom to delegate tasks to.

I talk more about how to delegate and the steps of delegation.

Related articles for tips on time management

Time Management Systems: Popular Systems to Get Things Done

How to Increase Reading Speed: Speed Reading Techniques to save time

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