Wendy Gibbs, Hertfordshire Growth Hub
We all have 24 hours a day and these are never enough, but even if we all had 36 hours each day would that be enough? Probably not, most of us would soon fill the extra hours.
Everyone has different daily responsibilities, tasks and activities and in some instances it is decided for us how we spend certain hours of the day. However it is possible to ensure we manage our time effectively.
Below are some tips and suggestions:
1) Assess how you currently spend your time.
Consider and list tasks and activities that you currently undertake and how much time you spend on them over a typical day or week. This doesn’t have to be exact but it provides an opportunity to assess and understand not only all of your different tasks and activities but how long you spend on them. Many of us may spend time jumping from one thing to the next without giving it a second thought this helps to understand where the time really goes.
2) Delegate or stop!
Having assessed how you use your time consider if there are any tasks and activities that you could delegate or that are simply not necessary in the first place. If the latter consider reducing the time spent on these tasks or if they are completely unnecessary stop.
3) Plan and Prioritise.
Not everything has to be done immediately and not everything can be put off forever. Plan what needs to be done, when it needs to be completed by and schedule time to do it, include allocating time for how long you anticipate it will take and try not to leave it until the last minute. If a task has been delegated to you ask when it needs to be completed by, that way you can plan and prioritise. Never fully allocate all of your time leave some for unforeseen matters.
When planning and prioritising it helps to understand what is urgent, important and what is a distraction. The time management matrix in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sets out and explains what is urgent and important, not – urgent and important , urgent and not important and not urgent and not important.
4) Manage Expectations.
Agree a time/date by when you will have a task or activity completed, and when someone can expect to hear back from you, but allow a little extra time just in case everything doesn’t go as intended. Your time is then less likely to be taken up responding to enquires of when the task or activity will be completed as everyone knows where they stand, just make sure you stick to the timescale set or notify in advance if circumstances prevent you from meeting the agreed time/date.
5) Understand what works for you.
Use your time to complete tasks and activities in a way that works best for you. Whether you prefer to tackle tasks you don’t like doing first so they are out of the way or breaking them down into bite size chucks throughout the day to tackling complex tasks at whatever time of day you’re at your best. The results the same the task is completed.
6) Look for time saving quick wins.
Learn and use short cuts on keyboards, set up templates or use quick parts for frequently sent emails or documents.
There is not a one size fits all for time management, it’s finding what works for you. It may take a little more time initially to make changes and practice, you won’t stick to it all the time and every now and then you’ll be thrown a curve ball.