Time Management - Tips to Tame Your Time

Time Management

Time Management - The everlasting battle... Great Tips to get to grips with managing precious time.
by Devyani Patel, May 8, 2013

It’s almost mid 2013 and the year just rolls past even faster than the last! These are the common words we hear each and every year… “where is the time going”? With the world of internet, social media, emails and text messages, communication networks have blasted a billion messages worldwide every second and a large portion of these messages are instigators to decision making, inspiring change, goal setting and re-planning.  The communication overhaul has had a huge impact on how much we can accomplish in a day and yet the hours in a day cannot possibly change. Furthermore, with so much communication, we also have more to accomplish. The ability to change course, be more efficient, deliver accurately, manage expectations with client/customer satisfaction and simply do more done in a day has just become more demanding. So the question arises on how we manage time and not get caught up in the wheel of information overflow in a day.

To manage time effectively, here are a few key steps to manage your day:

1. Having a  plan

Planning is a key factor... while there are so many aspects of all tasks or projects that need to happen, careful planning can allow individuals to plan where there are demanding phases of a task, job or project, the critical paths on a job, the contingencies and dependencies and to be better prepared for those last minute unexpected requests.

• For every project that is a potential project to those which are in existence, have major milestones with main tasks outlined and demonstrate all of the tasks or other projects that are on the horizon. This way you can manage the number of people you may need, manage vacation schedules, expected deliveries and milestones. Having a plan manages expectations, and minimizes impact if a schedule changes.

2. Set priorities

While planning helps factor in the time to get a project accomplished, as well as all the necessary steps, a typical information overloaded day is never depicted on a plan and which is why we need priorities.

• It simply is not true that everything is a priority. The art of fine tuning your workload is defining what is absolutely critical over what is immediately needed or can wait an hour or two. Label your priorities in groups A, B, C and within the high priority A’s, you can go one step further by labeling tasks as i,ii,iii. This is the first step in focusing on the key items of the day or week.

3. Sizing up your tasks

Priorities may change based on other events that may have entered the day which then impacts the plan and before you know it, everything is urgent and needed yesterday.

• So we go a step further by looking at what is critical and huge to accomplish. These items need to be broken down in further steps will take longer and hold you up. The idea behind breaking down tasks is to enable you to see achievements as you check off the smaller steps. The more you check off through the day, the more a sense of empowerment and accomplishment and before the day is over you will see that you have reached 50/70/90 or even 100% of your expected goals for the day.

• The biggest hindrance in Time Management is motivation. Enabling you to see achievements through the day empowers self-motivation and accomplishment.

• The trick to breaking down large tasks is also not to allow one big huge task to eat up your whole day while still feeling the plate is still full with so much to do at the end of the day.

• Breaking down tasks and setting priorities enable you to manage changes effectively. Managing change will enable you to see what else is taking the hit and also communicate to your staff, and your clients & customers  as necessary, 

4. Delegation & the power of team

Having staff and people to work with you on a project enables you to use those resources as planned and when times are critical. You should share the same end-goals, understand the delivery concept and be contributing factors in accomplishing the task. When you have a team that you delegate tasks, planned or unplanned, you inspire motivation, change to the day to day job and trust. Furthermore, you begin the stages of what we call succession planning – getting your staff versed in different tasks of the project so that there is always someone to cover a role when the need arises.

If you find that you cannot trust staff to take over a job as 'it is quicker if you do it alone', then think about your management style and ability to lead, inspire and trust - these are all key factors in successful management.

 5. Manage communication

Time management has become more difficult due to the nature of customer and client demands on communication and information feedback. In fact, most of the work day spent on accomplishing project tasks requires emails, calls and other forms of communications between suppliers, clients, team members and other stakeholders. Managing communication is also important in every aspect of your project accomplishment as timing of communication is often a dependency on others making decisions or making progress towards the project.

Here are some rules of thumb on managing communication.

• Learn about your customer/client. How demanding are they? What’s their expectation? Set up weekly calls/ updates so they are in-touch and notified regularly.

• How often they require updates and how detailed? Set a tone if you are doing business for the first time and instil the trust by giving the right level of information, status updates and details as necessary. Some clients/customers don’t want too many details and you may waste a lot of time writing emails unnecessarily. Sometime quick calls makes all the difference then follow up by a simple summary email rather than a long explanation on one email.

• Managing changes – ensure all your team members, managers and customers are notified when changes in plan occur. There is no other way then to kill customer trust or create havoc when changes are not communicated.

Use the bullets above in planning, prioritization, delegation as the essence to communicate as necessary.

• Remember communication is the key. If you deliver a project or task but no-one knows about it, it means nothing! Communicate and maintain the information flow throughout your day.

• Project and Time management require the balance of planning, prioritization, delegation and communication and ensuring you have a balance throughout the day will ensure that your staff are there to support you when time is critical and at the same time, the customers will appreciate your efforts of delivery especially at critical times, when they are in the know.

Finally, the success of good time management is to have a healthy and balanced working life. Working 12 hours in front of a desk without regular exercise, a healthy diet and regular breaks will stagnate your wellbeing no matter how many hours your work. The quality of your work will never be as good as someone who works less hours, eats well, exercises and happily manages communication, and delegates. With good time management you can fit in a well-balanced life which enables one to be healthy and alert when critical times occur.

To really master the art of great time management, project management, communication, delegation and team work - sign up for our courses.

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