How often do people say there’s not enough time in the day? All the time, in my experience! Why is that? Well, resources are scarcer than they used to be, we have more to do, and the technology that promised to lighten the load just makes it possible to work in more places! And on it goes. But maybe – just maybe – we don’t always use our time as effectively as we could.
What would you do if you could have that extra hour a day people always wish for? Go to the gym perhaps, or spend time with the kids or even have a bit of time to yourself. Truth is, we’ve only got the time we’ve got, but unless your time management is already spot on, most of us can win some time back by following a few simple guidelines.
The first thing is to commit to making a change – nothing will happen without a change in behaviour from you! The next challenge is to be clear about a few things – to ask yourself a few questions:
- What is my job – what am I here to achieve?
- What are my key objectives, and what must I do to progress towards them?
- What therefore are my priorities – what’s urgent? What’s important?
Once you’re clear on what you are SUPPOSED to be doing, consider how you ACTUALLY spend your time. Keep an activity log for a week, a fortnight or, ideally, a month. If you keep a record of everything you do in a diary or planner, this might provide the same information.
From this, you should be able to identify ON AVERAGE how often you do things, how many times you do them, and how long, again ON AVERAGE how long it takes do to one. You can also identify things that do not contribute to your objectives.
The aim is to understand how much of your day is actually tied up – there’s no point planning five hours of a seven hour day when four are already committed to things that are out of your hands! Knowing how much time each day is actually available allows you to plan effectively and not to over-commit.
To get the most out of your time, identify the “high leverage” activities like planning, training and delegation that will repay an investment of your time by winning more time later.
Doesn’t sound too difficult does it? Of course it isn’t! But it all comes down to discipline. On the many workshops we deliver on this subject people all say “I’m a convert – I can make a difference with just a few small changes” – but the problem is that it is so easy to slide back into bad habits – or even worse fail to find the time to put the changes into practice.
But the most important thing is never to be late for a time management course…