Managing your time better

The perennial problem – achieving what you want to achieve
Time Management is my most-requested training topic – no one is quite as effective as they feel they
should be. Reasons for seeking help are myriad:

  • New managers needing to learn to delegate
  • People wanting to reduce their stress levels and improve their well-being
  • People struggling to achieve important things for themselves or their businessesFolk feeling increasingly out of control and at the beck and call of customers, colleagues and
    technology

Technology is great, however being instantly accessible through email, social media and smartphones
have made some people cope even less effectively because of the huge amount of stimulus and calls to
action.

If I could distil Time Management down to some essentials it would be this:
1. “It’s more important to do the right thing than to do things right” (Peter Drucker). So prioritise,
prioritise, prioritise. We get drawn to the things we like doing and get tempted by displacement
activity. Being busy is not the same as being effective.
2. Know what you still have to do.
3. If you have important things to do then get them scheduled in your diary. The multitude of small
or less important tasks will crowd out the important things without a qualm. One of my contacts
makes a habit of being proactive in the morning and reactive in the afternoon, and that makes
sense to me.
4. Learn to say a gracious No.
5. Ask for a deadline, always. “When do you need it by?” is an essential thing to know.
6. Interruptions are the main stealer of time so manage these well. Everything from finding a quiet
corner to work in, to switching off email and your phone, to diverting your calls for a while will
help, as will communicating with the people around you. You’re not as essential as you think you
are, people manage fine without you when you are away!
7. One of these days is none of these days so if you are a procrastinator force yourself to make a
start.
8. Have a look at your systems and processes, which probably tend towards complexity rather than
simplicity.
9. “A place for everything and everything in its place” was something my grandma used to say and
she was right. Get your desk, files and folders sorted and cleared out.
And if you do manage to save some time, be very clear about what you will use that time for.

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