Busy schedules, full plates, pressed for time – call it what you want, we all experience it.
Figuring out how to manage time effectively will help with task completion, productiveness and relieve stress, and there are tips on exactly how to do just that. Before we get to the tips though, let’s focus on prioritizing all those tasks that come at us on a daily basis.
To begin, ask yourself the following:
– Does this task/project make sense? If not, where can you get clarification?
– Who is affected by this? For example, is this a customer or safety issue? Identifying this can help determine the priority of completing the task and the magnitude of the issue.
– Should this be done in primary or secondary time? Primary time is when we do our best thinking; secondary time is when we do tasks that are automatic for us.
– Can the task/project be broken down? The key to managing our time is breaking tasks into smaller segments. This makes accomplishment more manageable and not as overwhelming. Also, it is easier to fit small tasks into our schedule.
– Is this urgent? Why? Identifying what is urgent seems obvious; however, it is not always that clear. Getting clarity by collaborating with your leader on what is truly urgent, will help in this decision making
– Will this eventually become urgent? Stephen Covey, author of best-selling novel The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, developed the Priority Matrix which classifies which tasks are urgent and important and which aren’t. Utilizing his model, we should spend some time each day working on important tasks or else they will eventually become urgent and we will be constantly swept up in a treadmill of urgent tasks.
Determining when something is urgent and when to move it up on your priority list is based on a few principles:
– Is this something your boss wants? We all have a leader we need to be accountable to and they may know things we don’t know.
– Who/what will be impacted? For example, a customer or safety issue needs to be dealt with immediately whereas hiring a new employee can take time.
– Will it take long to complete? We often have small windows of time and by breaking our larger tasks down we can find ways to fit a small task into an open window of time.
– What is the actual deadline? If we are behind on a task and it’s due tomorrow, it’s time to get moving!
Now that we’ve prioritized, let’s get to the tactics that will help us manage our time more effectively:
1) Carry a schedule that includes your ‘To Do’ list
2) Schedule a ‘begin’ and ‘end’ time for any activity or conversation that is important for success
3) Spend 50% of your time engaged in thoughts, actions and conversations that produce results
4) Schedule time for interruptions
5) Spend 30 minutes to plan your day first thing in the morning or before you leave work so that you’re ready for the next day
6) Take five minutes before a call or meeting to decide what success looks like
7) Use a ‘Do Not Disturb Sign’ when needed
8) Refrain from answering phone calls, email or responding live immediately unless it is critical
9) Block out distractions
10) Set aside time each day to work on important and not urgent tasks to help stay ahead
The Pareto Principle, or the 80:20 Rule, states that 80% of results are achieved with 20% of the effort; so, don’t sweat the small stuff. Every so often, stop what you’re doing; take time to pause, regroup and decide what to adjust in your task list; and begin again with a new perspective.
What best practices will you put in place to implement better time management?