5 Essential Tips for Getting Time Management Right
We’ve all been there. With an overflowing inbox, a phone that won’t stop ringing and a to-do list that is longer than War and Peace. But not to worry, we’ve got some great advice on how to manage your time in business.
Clear the Decks
If time management has gotten away from you completely in recent weeks or months then it is absolutely essential that you clear out a good block of time to get organised initially. Create some folders in your email, go through your inbox organising anything that needs to be actioned and deleting anything that doesn’t or that you can deem irrelevant.
Organise your call backs in order of priority (we will talk more about this shortly) and then focus on your desk. Clear out any paperwork you no longer need. File away anything you do need. Then ensure that everything is tidy. A tidy desk = a tidy mind!
This should be done either every morning or every afternoon/evening just before you stop working. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into four boxes. The first box should be labelled urgent and important. The second box should be urgent and unimportant. The third box should be important not urgent and the last box should be not urgent and not important.
Then each day, anything in the last box should be scrapped or at least delegated. (More on this soon) The first box should be dealt with first, the second box should be dealt with second or delegated, and the third box should be dealt with once everything else is done. Things that come in throughout the day should be added to the relevant boxes as you go along.
Block out Your Time
Once you know exactly what you need to do and in what order, it’s time to allocate slots for each task. So think about how long each task should reasonably take, avoiding the trap of thinking you can do it faster than is realistic, and write down the time you decide on beside each task. Then you can create a layout of your day, but be sure to include extra time for reacting to tasks that emerge as the day progresses. It also makes sense to get rid of any little 2 minute tasks first. Even if this goes against your priority list. Make sure any tasks that are specific to a time of the day, meetings for example, go in when you first start so that you can slot everything else around them.
You should end up with something like this:
09:00 – 09:15 – Confirmation email to Lucy
– Book table at Fernando’s for meeting with Richard and Emma
09:15 – 10:15 – Complete copy for Mr X – due by mid-day – 1 hour
10:15 – 10:45 – Ad hoc tasks – 30 mins
10:45 – 11:00 – Break
11:00 – 12:00 – Transcript for Mrs Y – due by 3pm – 1 hour
12:00 – 13:00 – Contracts for X and Y – Due by the end of the day – 1 hour
13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch
14:00 – 14:30 – Ad hoc tasks – 30 mins
14:30 – 15:15 – Update website with new service – 45 mins
15:15 – 15:30 – Break
15:30 – 17:00 – Meeting with Julie and Adam – 1.5 hours
17:00 – 17:30 – Ad hoc tasks - 30 mins
Delegate, Delegate and then Delegate Some More
Time is money. It may be an old cliché saying but it’s true! Every hour of your time has a cost attached. If you’re a business owner or manager, this amount could well be significant. We won’t hazard a guess here, but if you’re earning £15, £20 or even £40+ an hour, is that the amount of money you want to spend on a task that just about anyone can do? Probably not. Try and ensure that you are only doing tasks that are worth your time specifically, or that only you could possibly do effectively.
Focus on the Task at Hand
Finally, we come to one of the most important aspects when considering how to manage your time effectively in business. Forget those incoming calls, forget those emails popping up and forget the temptation of social media, even if it is business related. When completing a task from your list, allow yourself to ignore everything else and just get it done. That time you’ve scheduled in for ad-hoc tasks is when you can return calls, prioritise emails etc. Don’t let distractions mess with your day! You manage your time, don’t let time manage you!
We hope our advice on how to manage your time effectively in business has been helpful. If you have any tips to add then feel free to comment with them below!