You may have come across similar time management articles online that give you a list of different time management tips you can use in both your personal and business life, so what I have done is curate what I think are the 5 most important ones out of the hundreds of different tips out there.
These tips are for busy business professionals looking for a solution that can be used by the entire organisation.
If I’m being honest with you, these tips aren’t ground-breaking and you may even have tried and failed at some of these before. However, if you continuously practice and ensure everyone in the organisation is using this list.
Table Of Contents
I put “prioritise wisely” at the very top of this list because the vast majority of people choose to do the easy tasks first and then work their way through the list, leaving the hardest task till last.
In most cases, the hardest task is probably the most important one on that list – you may not realise this, but, it is basically a form of procrastination.
What happens is; you end up leaving the harder tasks for another day, then one more day and before you know it, a whole week has passed and you feel like you haven’t achieved anything.
If you adopt the Stephen Covey model, you should start seeing a massive improvement.
As you can see from the grid table above, Covey has broken down how to place work needed to be done into 4 different buckets.
- Important and urgent — Tasks that must be done right NOW – these normally come with deadlines.
- Important but not urgent — These can be long-term strategy and development. On the surface, these tasks may seem important, but when you dig down further, you find they aren’t.
- Urgent but not important — This one of the strangest ones in the grid, however, if you understand that what is urgent to someone else isn’t necessarily urgent or important to you, you’ll find that you get a lot of time back to concentrate on the things that matter. Where possible, try to delegate these tasks. They are urgent but not important on your list.
- Not urgent and not important — You can place these as the last items on your list. They are normally the easiest and first things people do. In essence, they are low priority but give the illusion that you are getting things done. In most cases, they can be done at a later stage.
If it helps, print the grid out and put it on the wall of your office. Doing this one simple act will allow you to get the most important jobs done first with time to spare for the less important tasks.
You won’t feel as though you are constantly rushing to get something done when you prioritise your work in this way.
Make a Schedule – and Stick to It!
This could quite easily be at the top of my list (it’s that important) – start organising your time into chunks for each day, week and month.
Couple this with Covey’s theory of prioritising and you have a sound time-management plan in just these two methods.
By prioritising your tasks, making a schedule to get them done and sticking to it, you’ll find your efficiency levels will skyrocket and that you have excess time at the end of each day. This is called “batching” and which is something most CEOs who operate at the very highest levels do to ensure the important tasks get done.
The reason the two methods work so well together is that you are scheduling to get the most important tasks done each day. If you stick to it, you genuinely won’t feel that you are constantly running out of time.
In reality, the “sticking to it”-part is probably one of the hardest to do – with so many different distractions at our fingertips (like the internet). Our bodies are finely tuned to hand us a bit of respite before we tackle those hard but urgent and important tasks.
Batching puts your tasks in small bite-sized buckets with a set time to get them done for the day or week. It takes advantage of both goal-setting and scheduling. It is also a visual representation of what needs to be done which is extremely powerful when you know how to harness it properly.
Stay Away From the Bad Distractions
This follows on from the previous tip, really…
I would go one step further and suggest that people (work colleagues) are probably the largest distractions (especially if you hold a managerial position).
The amount of times a random question gets asked that takes you away from the things you are meant to be doing happens daily.
To get around this (and to give you your time back), set specific times of the day when someone can ask you a question about something. This can be scheduled a couple times a day, if you like.
What you’ll find is, your colleagues who have a question will most likely find the answer to their question or sort the problem out themselves in the interim without bothering you.
They constantly interrupt you because they have access to an additional information source. If you cut that source off, it’s amazing the ability people have/find when forced to think for themselves and problem-solve.
In most cases, your colleagues will either research and problem-solve on their own or, if it’s really important and they can’t solve it, will speak with you at the scheduled time.
Can you see how this works?
By scheduling a couple of meetings per day, you are eliminating the need to have several unscheduled and unimportant meetings throughout the day.
Not only does this give you time to concentrate on those important and urgent tasks. You’ll find that a similar time-management method is adopted through the organisation (no matter how big or small it is).
If everyone in the organisation adopts this method of scheduling meetings, fewer “mini-meetings” will be held and much more is achieved on any given day.
Obviously, if you are 1 – 2 man band, this will be difficult. But if you are in a larger organisation, I would encourage you to delegate your tasks a lot more.
If you have done a good job hiring talented and enthusiastic employees, this shouldn’t really be a problem.
Running an SMB or being involved in one means delegating urgent but not important and not urgent and not important tasks.
If you are being truthful with yourself, one of the reasons you don’t do this is to give yourself some respite of actually completing those difficult but important tasks.
If you employ a team, use them. The organisations that delegate to the right people always win. It makes your business much more efficient and it means the important tasks that are being put off at other companies is actually being prioritised by yours.
Not only does this give you a clear competitive advantage – it makes your business formidable compared to the competition.
I have left this one till last because… well, it is easier said than done.
The golden rule is, “If it can be done today, do it today.”
Leaving tasks for another day (especially important ones) is a really bad habit to get into. That’s why the “Make a Schedule – and Stick to It” point is such an important one.
The best way I have found to deal with procrastination is to stick to your schedule religiously. Get into the habit of prioritising and sticking to your schedule.
The funny thing is, once you try this and it works – you’ll wonder why you never adopted this method earlier.
There have been several million articles written about time-management. Mainly because so many people struggle with getting it right.
Of course, there are many different methods – some work better than others, depending on the person using them.
What we have found with the many different companies we work with; it takes a team effort and discipline.
Each person in the organisation (no matter how big or small the organisation) needs to be on the same page. If they are, you’ll find increased levels of productivity and a lot less stress.
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