Is it time to Manage Priorities?
The essence of having a prosperous and fulfilling life relies on effective time management skills and starts when you manage priorities. This is what drives all successful individuals and organizations. With today’s demanding and hectic schedules, both at work and home, organizations need to train employees to manage priorities with effective time management.
Explore these practical tips and techniques that will repeatedly help you manage priorities and your time more efficiently at the office . . . And at home
1. Time Logs
A time log is an effective way to see where your time actually goes to during the day. When you spend 1 to 2 weeks recording where you spend your time, a tremendous “aha” moment happens. When you log all activities (big and small) and the time it takes to complete them, the time-log provides useful information to establish where your time actually goes and what you need to adjust. It is amazing to see where you “think” your time goes and where your “actual” time goes. Make sure you record your interruptions, which we will discuss below. Don’t overcomplicate this assignment. But, you need, to be honest with where you spend your time.
There are a lot of great examples on the Internet, one of my favorites is at http://www.rightattitudes.com/2008/10/21/log-where-time-actually-goes/ where you can scroll to the bottom and actually print off a PDF copy.
2. Quality Time
This is where you plan a block of time to do your most important high priority tasks. You can either schedule them around times of the day you feel your best (for some it’s early in the morning, for others it’s late at night). Many people find Dan Sullivan’s Entrepreneurial Time System to be beneficial. Instead of scheduling blocks of time, you schedule out your days as either focus, buffer, or free days. Whatever works for you, the most important decision is planning for the most important people and projects.
3. Dealing with Documents
Document handling can steal a vast quantity of time from your day. Handle documents only once and improve the paper dilemma by:
- If you can do it in less than 2 minutes, just DO IT.
- File the document for reference later.
- Keep the filing system simple . . . You could even have a 3 ring binder versus a traditional file.
- The secret to any filing system is the maintenance. Schedule time for your “to-do” file.
- If you hate filing, you should never have a “file” basket as it will keep piling up. File immediately!
- Dump aka trash the document.
4. Managing Interruptions
In any given day we are all interrupted at some stage from the activity that we are undertaking. Whether this is a phone call or a colleague, they all can impact the time you have allocated to a particular task.
An employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions and costs the US economy $588 billion per year (2009, Basex). Remember it takes 10 to 15 minutes to get back on track after each interruption.
Your objective should be to try to reduce the number of unwanted interruptions by applying the following practical techniques:
- Create a visual barrier at your workspace to reduce the incidence of ‘drop-in’ visits
- Don’t have extra chairs in your workspace – people do not hang around as long if they must stand
- For important work – move to another space so the potential interrupters can’t find you!
- Tell people that you are busy, explain why and arrange to contact them at a more suitable time. Make sure you get the word out BEFORE you are interrupted. 🙂
- Close the door . . . If there is a fire, they will open it.
5. Manage Your Workspace
How your workspace is organized has an impact on how efficient you are at managing your time. The following will help you improve your efficiency:
- De-clutter your desk by clearing it at the end of each working day
- File documents immediately
- Purge files regularly. Make sure your office has a policy on what needs to be kept and for how long. 80% of what gets filed, never gets looked at again.
- Organize a workflow system in your space. Items you use often should be in your million-dollar space (at arm’s length). If you don’t use it, loose it.
6. Get a Handle on Technology
Your phone can be responsible for eating vast quantities of your time. Although many of these calls are a necessary part of your everyday work it is important that you manage the phone and social media by using the following simple rules:
- Batch your outward calls
- Delegate calls that you don’t have to make personally to a member of your team
- Terminate calls once the business has been done.
- Statistics tells us that if you stand versus sitting at your desk, your calls will be quicker.
- Set up a rotation in your team for handling incoming calls.
- Start your day with priorities versus looking at your phone
Remember time management is a skill and it can be learned. All you have to be is open and committed to learning.
Author, Trainer, LifeDesigner®
Melinda Smith, CPO® organizes, optimizes, and implements action plans, training, and consulting. Great referrals are Entrepreneurs, executives, and companies looking for a sustainable change with work, home, & you. Melinda has worked with companies and individuals for over 25 years conducting workshops across the East Coast that included over 60 cities in 19 states. Focus topics include Strategic Thinking, Teambuilding, Organization, Balance Strategies, Stress Management, and Embracing Change. She is one of the first 200 in the nation to achieve a Certified Professional Organizer status and is a graduate of the Western School of Feng Shui (pronounced feng shway). Melinda has owned Balance & Harmony 360², Inc., since 2003 and is the author of The Complete Guide for Balance & Harmony OWL (Organize With a focus to Liberate) Kit that includes a book, workbook, F.O.C.U.S. Journal, and five products to systematically organize Work, Home, and You.