The key is to manage time better by identifying what your most important priorities are, and then completing them in the most effective way. Here’s what to do:
Lesson 1: Prioritise
Instead of just listing what needs to be done, rank tasks from most to least important, and complete them in that order. Create extra mental space by putting some activities on hold temporarily – allowing you to focus on the most important priorities.
Lesson 2: Be ruthless with email
Use a private email address for clients and customers. Get everything else sent to a generic or alternate email address. That way you can deal with your client issues first, and the rest when you have time. Only reply to your emails at set times during the day, rather than respond the instant every email comes in. And turn off that audio email alert!
Lesson 3: Restrict your use of the telephone to particular times
Work more effectively by restricting calls to set periods during the day – for example – one period in the morning to make all your calls and another in the afternoon to return calls and do follow-up.
Lesson 4: If you don’t have time for something, just say so
There is no need to listen politely if you’ve already decided the conversation is not of interest. Simply say – “I am sorry to interrupt you, but I don’t have time for this right now.” There’s no point wasting time you don’t have.
Lesson 5: Limit your availability
Unexpected and unplanned interruptions and distractions can “steal” your day. Schedule time when you can’t be interrupted, and don’t answer your email or telephones. Just do whatever it is you’ve got to do – no interruptions.
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Lesson 6: Protect your productive time
We all know when our most productive times are. Make sure you are uninterrupted at that time, and use it for the activities that need your brain the most.
Lesson 7: Plan your day the night before
Spend 5 minutes at the end of the day preparing for the next day. Do whatever works for you – make lists of activities, check your calendar or enter tasks into your electronic task list. In the morning, you’ll be ready to go.
Lesson 8: Don’t get buried by paper
When possible, try to “touch” each piece of paper only once. As the saying goes: “Do it, ditch it, or delegate it!”
Lesson 9: Group your appointments
If you have several appointments or errands, try to group them all in the same day so that all of your external travel and time is scheduled for one or two days in the week.
Lesson 10: Confirm your appointments
Never assume that your 1 o’clock is on! A simple phone call or e-mail message saves time, energy and anxiety.
Time is not scarce – it’s uniform and constant- but success depends on your ability to manage it.