Time – there isn’t enough of it in a day. You spend 8 hours sleeping. If you work, you probably spend more than 8 hours there plus you need some time for yourself AND if you have a family, you need to be able to put aside time for them.
How often have you heard someone say “I don’t have enough time” or “there are never enough hours in the day“. Or do you have collegues that put in overtime because they are so behind in their work? Yes, there certainly could be legitimate reasons why you are behind — but in most cases, the cause is YOU.
Why is it that some people can manage their time so wisely that they don’t even break a sweat when faced with deadlines or interruptions during the day? How come some people seem to be able to fit 10 hours of work in an 8 hour day?
It’s simple. They are practicing practical time management skills. We all pick them up, however we fail to act upon them and use them. There are entire companies built on time management – think DayTimer. That’s what they do, they help you and I to become experts at time management.
But practicising practical time management skills are not hard. If you’re in the corporate world you probably practice them already. As you went through school you practiced them also, and even as a kid you had some practice in managing your time.
Let me start of with a personal example, then I will share with you some practical time management skills.
My son, who is now 5 years old, love to play on the computer. He’s got some educational software that he enjoys working with. But he’s also got tons of LEGO blocks that he likes to play with — but he also knows that bedtime is 8:00pm so that usually means hit the shower by 7:00pm and no later than 7:30pm, and in bed by 8:00pm so that by 8:30pm he’s fast asleep. He is already learning that he needs to manage his time. So he plays on the computer for 15-30 minutes. Next up are his LEGO blocks. Then perhaps some reading or his “flip/flop” game (memory game). But he has already learned that he needs to manage his time if he wants to do everything he likes.
We all learn time management skills from the time we’re toddlers — it’s just that over time (excuse the pun) we forget how to use them correctly. Time management is no super secret formula, there are several practical strategies that are very simple to implement.
There are several tips that I want to share with you, but to put them all into one LONG post… well, you’ll probably fall asleep. So I will am breaking this post down into several posts over the next few days.
Practical Time Management Tip #1 – Delegate Responsibilities
How often have you worked on tasks that result in little to no gains for you? It could be something as simple as sending out faxes or e-mails or perhaps putting documentation together or training materials. When I first took over as the Director of Operations, I hated to delegate anything. I felt fear in giving work to someone else. What if they didn’t do it correctly? But eventually I learned that I can not do it myself. I had to delegate tasks.
So I’d assign tasks to my co-ordinators. I’d provide explicit details on what needed to be done. I would set-up check-points and would follow up on their work. I even went so far as showing them how it had to be done. I was proud of myself. I was delegating.
Do you know what I was doing? It’s called micro-managing. That is not delegating. In fact, I was creating MORE work for myself. Do you do that? It’s one thing to give instructions, it’s something else to do someones job.
My team get tired of that really quick. They are pretty smart, I don’t need to do the work for them.
Now when I assign work, I tell them the task that needs to be completed. They’re pretty smart to know when I want feedback from them and when I don’t need to know. We’re all happy. THAT is delegating.
In practical terms, look at your business to see what tasks are repetitious. What are you spending hours doing that could be handled by someone else. It could be as simple as research, or writing articles. Could it be delegated to someone? Meaning could you outsource the task(s)?
Practical Time Management Tip #2 – Concentrate on One Task
Multitasking is great for computers. They’ve got the hardware to do it. The human mind, though quite powerful works best when doing one task at a time. Think about when you’re driving – you really need to concentrate on the road ahead, however you take visual cues from around you to ensure you’re not veering too far right or left, and you are not driving too slow or too fast. Your mind is working on one thing. Add a cell phone into the mix. Can you really drive and talk at the same time? No, probably not.
As you progress through your day – work on one task, and only one task. By doing so you will get that one task done quicker. Time management, huh! By focusing on the one task you get through it quicker because you’re avoiding the noise and distractions around you.
I could almost say that these TWO tips are at the core of time management.
Tomorrow, I’ll provide you with a few more tips to help you better manage your time.