Jeffry Farman, CountryPlace director, shares some time management tips that just might make a difference (with help from Tim Chudley, UK conference colleague & friend.)
Using time productively helps reduce stress at work, creates greater career satisfaction and enables a healthier work-life balance. Sometimes it feels like managing time effectively at work is outside our control, especially when colleagues and managers give us unanticipated work at short notice. But it really is possible to gain control of your time and handle whatever comes your way...
1. Make a Plan
Take a look at all the tasks you have for the week ahead, including recurring tasks and meetings you’ll be in. Pinpoint the most urgent tasks with the closest deadlines and see what can wait until next week. Allocate the amount of time needed for each task and map this into your calendar for the week to make your task list feel much more achievable.
2. Identify High-payoff activities
Eighty percent of your time should be spent on high payoff activities. The important activities that will make a difference. Low payoff activities should take up no more than 20 percent of your time. These are the things that will inhibit your progress towards achieving your goals. Either drop these activities of delegate them to someone else.
3. Avoid Multitasking
Being able to juggle multiple things at once may be a skill, but it can slow down your ability to complete tasks efficiently. Avoid frustrations associated with this by focusing on one task at a time. This can include only checking emails at set points in the day and turning off notifications.
4. Take Breaks
It may sound counterproductive but an important part of managing your time is ensuring you take time out. Go for a walk or to the gym at lunchtime and have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea break with a healthy snack. It’ll help sharpen your mind and de-stress, and help you to work more efficiently.
5. Identify Distractions
Identify the sources of distraction that you find most difficult and develop strategies for dealing with them. If it’s general noise in the office, put on some headphones and listen to motivational music. If your manager interrupts you a lot throughout the day, ask if you can have a short meeting each day instead to discuss everything in one go.
6. Expect the Unexpected
Having a good system for planning your time is all well and good, but what happens when urgent or unexpected work arises? When planning your tasks for the week, allow some spare time for unanticipated situations. If nothing comes up, you can use the time to get through some of your less urgent tasks instead.
7. Speak Up
Being a ‘yes’ person can make you a valuable member of a team, but it’s important to speak up if you’re under too much pressure. If you have a week full of urgent tasks and a colleague gives you yet more to do, it’s important to say something. Go to your manager with your task-list and suggestions of what could be deprioritised to be solution-oriented with your workload.
8. Ensure Meeting Efficiency
If you organise meetings regularly, have the names of all attendees, the full agenda and the location details before sending out meeting invites. Disseminating all the information in one go avoids a drip-feed of questions and queries coming back to you.
9. Take Advantage of Time Management Tools
If you implement some of these tips and still can’t see a difference, use some time management software for a week. Various software solutions and apps can help you log the time you spend on different tasks. At the end of the week, you’ll start to see some patterns emerging. Make a plan based on this to cut out some areas of your day that aren’t actually helping you deliver your work.
10. End on a High
Finish your working day by reviewing your to-do list and ticking off all the tasks you’ve accomplished. Similarly, write a list of your top priorities for the next day too. It’ll help you go home knowing everything is in order. When you get to work the next morning, it’ll serve as a quick reminder of your focus for the day, helping you get straight on with the work at hand.
Regain control of your working day! By implementing these tips, you’ll maximise your time and feel a whole lot more positive about work.