By taking control of your time, you’re able to stay focused on the task at hand. This leads to higher efficiency since you never lose momentum. Implementing a time management plan can do wonders to not only your working environment but also to you personally. Managing time means less stress, more time to do the things you love and more opportunities for you in the future.
First of all creating a time management system will take time in itself, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. There will be a lot of trial and error. However, once you develop a good time management system, you’ll end up with a lot more free time to focus on other areas.
Remove Bad Browsing Habits
When you’re at work, it’s about being present and getting as much done to the best of your abilities. The internet is one of the greatest inventions ever created by man. But it is designed to distract you, and the best way to avoid being distracted is by constraining yourself. This means no sending emails to friends, chatting, or checking Facebook for personal reasons.
Be sure to check your various general social media sites on your personal time in the evenings or weekends. But by all means that does not mean that you cannot take inspiration from your favorite social media mediums but do so on your own time and not at 2.30pm when you are trying to execute a task during working hours.
Another issue which is very common place is incessant checking of e-mail inboxes. It is safe to say that a lot of us are guilty of this. Stopping checking your inbox every 10-15 minute may sound easy but it is a habit that is hard to break. If you add up all the minutes you have been using going in and out of your e-mail inbox, it is easy to see the time that is wasted on such a monotonous task.
Instead of being a slave to your email, set aside two or three time periods during the day to check and respond to all of your messages. This can be incredibly difficult to do and will take a lot of discipline, but it will allow you to devote more focus and time to other tasks that might otherwise be constantly interrupted by checking email.
Introduce a Calendar
Introducing a calendar such as Google Calendars (free) can greatly improve your time management. At a glance, you can see all of your obligations and all of the hours in a given day (or week) that you have available to fill with free or work time. When you know what you need to do, you waste less time in idle activities. Instead of wondering what you should be doing next, you can already be a step ahead of your work.
Ideally you’ll spend about an hour or two organizing your calendar for the week’s tasks. That may sound like a lot, but it needn’t be done at the same time. Start your work day by reviewing what is planned for the day and scheduling anything else throughout the week.
Aside from just inserting work-related content and projects, it is a great idea to schedule breaks, meals, and time off. Designating three 30-minute slots to check e-mail, may seem silly, but it will reduce the chances of you wondering aimlessly into your inbox throughout the day, as mentioned in the previous point.
Allocate Extra Time
This one may not be popular with a lot of people, but getting up at least 30 minutes earlier can help us manage our time better. Our brain function is a lot more productive in the morning and an early rise could be the beginning of fresh ideas and increased productivity. Start small though, maybe 10 minutes at first and increase that over time.
Another important tip is to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Most people try to arrive at 11am for the 11am meeting. But delays can happen and it can have a domino effect on the rest of your schedule for the day. Plan to be there for that meeting at 10.45am. That leaves you with a few valuable minutes to ensure you are composed and your thoughts are collected. 15 minutes early is on time in most cases for a lot of professionals, so aim to achieve this in your coming meetings.
Overestimate the allotted time for any task, especially with a new project. When doing something for the first time, it will often take 3 or 4 times what you may have originally estimated. Allow for this extra time.
Efficient people don’t have more time in their days. They just use it differently.
Brian Cleary is the Chief Executive of County Tipperary Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the past director of Chambers Ireland. He writes for a number of online publications and is a regular co-presenter of the ‘Small Business Show’ a syndicated radio program broadcast on a number of stations throughout Ireland and available as a podcast. You can find him on Twitter @ChamberBrian.
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