Time management mastery

Time management mastery

Time management mastery

You know you have exactly the same number of minutes in a day as everyone else on the planet. How is it that some people manage to do more than others? It’s all about time management and being productive with what time you have. You can’t just find time – you have to schedule it. How you spend your time is a decision you make. Here are some tips to help you get organised.

Eliminate energy vampires

Start by examining your energy vampires and arm yourself with garlic. Or do you have other time-wasters? Come on, we all have them. Do you spend too much time on Facebook, watching TV, talking or texting, double-handling jobs, or making mistakes because you are in a hurry?

First it’s time to work out what you do with your time. Take stock of where you spend your time for a week, recording what you’re doing in every 30 minutes. Don’t cheat.

Shocked? Now set a plan for how you can be more effective with your time. If you spend time watching TV, ask yourself what you really want to watch rather than just having it on for the sake of it. Try not to watch any program you have to tune in weekly or daily for. If you have a huge desire to follow a soap, maybe record the program and reward yourself with a screening when you have achieved some business goals. You might find a diminished interest if you break the habit.

Use time management tools

Use time management tools that work for you: a notebook, electronic or paper diary or sticky notes.

Do not be a slave to your email. Set a few email sessions a day and when you get to them – deal with them by filing or responding/deleting/throwing away. Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible. As well as saving you time and energy (no thought required), it generally will save you money. For example, fill up the car with petrol on the same day of the week, no matter how much you have left in the tank, and choose the day in your area when petrol is at its lowest price.

Create schedules

Instead of creating long to-do lists you might want to create schedules. Especially if you find you are never getting through your to-do list, and it feels like never-ending and daunting. Using a different technique could help you get it into shape. Establish how much time you want to allocate for each of your daily tasks. Prioritise the list (start with the hardest). Set your timer and stop when the time runs out. Come back to it in your ‘hour of power’.

Schedule one hour every day for your ‘hour of power’. This is the time to finish off what you started in the tasks above, to deal with urgent tasks that may have popped up during the day or to start things you have had scheduled for later in the week. Set a timer – don’t cheat!

Stuck? Solve problems or dilemmas using a timer. Set a timer for two to three minutes and come up with as many solutions you can think of in that time. Choose the best one and go for it. The more practice you get at this technique, the faster your brain will be able to respond to dramas in the future.

Have effective systems and processes

If you spend a lot of time looking for things, such as searching for files and emails, then you need to spend some time organising them into files that make sense and work. Take advantage of all the functions accessible in your inbox.

Effectively use all your time

Utilise all the time you have. Inevitably we spend time waiting. Waiting for an appointment, in line, on hold or travelling. Prepare for these events by having things to do. Always carry a notebook to jot down ideas. Take something from your pile of necessary reading. Use the car as a mobile university by borrowing talking books on CD or downloading books onto your phone or MP3 player. If you fly, try to limit your luggage to carry-on to save time.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations

Be realistic about your time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations of what you can achieve. If your schedule goes awry just recalibrate and know for next time how much time tasks can take. Make time for distractions – you know they’ll occur.

Use technology to your advantage

Link up your email, social networking and blogging accounts to your phone and tweet, blog, make appointments and respond to emails while waiting or sitting on the train. But remember to switch off too.

Set SMART goals

A way of overcoming procrastination or that sense of ‘it’s all too hard’ is to set goals. SMART goals are a technique for structuring goals into how and what you need to do and when by. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (and Relevant) and Time-bound.

Specific – Your goals must be clear and broken down into small steps. Ask the W’s (use all that are applicable). Make them motivating and challenging.

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Why: Specify reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

Measurable – Establish specific criteria to measure success. These could include precise amounts and specific dates. The more specific the target, the greater the opportunity to celebrate the small wins.

Attainable – Everything is possible if we set our minds to it and by breaking your goals into attainable slices – ‘you can eat an elephant with a fork’. Set goals outside your comfort zone but don’t go too wild.

Realistic and Relevant – Goals should be realistic and relevant to the direction you want your life and business to take you. You need to know it can be achieved so you can direct your energy towards success.

Time-bound – Your goals must have a deadline. A timeframe can create a sense of urgency and diminish the opportunity for procrastination.

An example of a vague goal: I am going to build my business.

An example of a SMART goal: By 15 November I will have made $3,000 in sales from 15 customers. On 15 December I will have made another $5,000 in sales from 20 customers. 15 December will be the cut-off for orders for Christmas.