There’s a common thought that “Busy people get more done”. Good time management is a great skill to have. Each of us will have different approaches to prioritising our time and organising our efforts. It’s important to know yourself, your time management issues, and develop strategies that work for you. As a busy small business owner, also juggling casual contracts, and volunteer commitments I’m continually refining the way I allocate priorities and manage my time.
Achieve early in the day
I was always told to make my bed – not just for neatness, but because it is your first achievement of the day! For many people it can be hard to get started, but once they do, they build momentum. Consider how completing something can get you moving and make you feel like you are achieving progress. For example, some people tick off some easy email replies first thing in the day. Others tackle the jobs they have been putting off. This second strategy, to do the least pleasant job first, often means you look forward to the rest of the day as the tough work is done.
Relying on memory works for some people, while others need a diary, calendar or to-do list. I’ve seen some people use bits of paper and post-it notes, however if these are poorly organised it can lead to big issues. There are apps like Remember the Milk and Evernote across various platforms. In terms of basic technology, I recommend using an electronic diary which updates live to your computer and your phone, and keeps you on track. I tend to use a paper diary for notes during meetings or on the phone, and I’ve found a day to a page is ideal for this kind of detail. My online diary tells me where and when I need to be, while my notes can be found by searching for the date of a meeting and looking up the hard copy diary.
Whichever approach you use, find a method which ensures you follow up on any actions required. Plan ahead, and make sure you complete the required tasks in the required time. There’s nothing worth than realising at 10am that you were supposed to have something done by 9am!
It might seem overwhelming to have 299 unread emails after just one day away from work, but not all new tasks should require the same type of engagement, action, or time commitment. Dealing with new tasks need not be complex. I suggest there are four options when dealing with any task, particularly email: I like to call these the “4Ds of Task and Time Management”.
- Do it now
- Delegate it to the right person
- Decide when, setting a date and time to do it.
- Delete, or decline.
Need help in planning your time, developing your time management skills, or having a coaching conversation? Contact us.