Can we save time? We have all got the same amount of time so we can’t bank hours to use later but we can use our time more productively. It is so easy to be distracted; to put off things till “later” and to be side-tracked onto more interesting activities.
When working with a team this is more important. Your team might be your team at work but can equally apply to your home team – be that a carer, a partner, a parent or that essential resource to your family wellbeing.
Planning is the tool to use as well as a splash of discipline; planning for those things we dislike and planning for those things we much prefer to do. Lists are all well and good but sometimes they can just go on and on and on (you know what I mean).
So here are some tips – pick the ones you feel would work best for your ‘team’ and you. There’s no point trying to implement something that does not align with your way of working or indeed living.
- Use a calendar that is broken down into timeslots that you are available; if you have to pick your child up from school or telephone the dentist book it in your calendar as you are clearly not able to work during this time – and you won’t forget to do them!
- Start your day with a “plan of action”; what activities you are going to address; gauge how long they are going to take and put them in the calendar. This can be done at the end of the previous day or first thing in the morning for that day.
- Batch the same tasks together; all calls together; all research together; invoicing time; etc.
- Schedule in slots for dealing with your emails – not just when the “ping” tells you.
- Set a timer so when the time is up you move on to the next thing and schedule some additional time to finish the activity if you haven’t finished.
- Reduce distractions by turning all interruptions off; logoff your email so you don’t get notified when a new mail arrives (set up an out-of-office message), switch your phone to answerphone.
- If you finish early; don’t waste that time but get on with the next activity.
• Schedule in breaks; and break at that time. Same goes for the end of the day (unless an urgent matter comes up).
- Schedule those things you put off for first thing in the morning – get them out of the way and feel good for the rest of the day.
- Assess your success at the end of the day; plan for the next day and congratulate yourself on your focus, commitment and what you have achieved.
- After a while you will be able to get the timings more accurate; complete the activities for the day and be able to slot in some “downtime” to reward yourself with a coffee with a friend; an extra walk with the dog or just half an hour on the sofa with a good book.
In conclusion, time management is available to everyone and to whatever degree you wish. It certainly helped me when I was working full-time, children were in childcare and school, attending weekends away in the reserves and my husband was on deployment for 9 months at a time. It really was a military exercise making sure I was in the right place, at the right time with the right ‘tools of the trade’. Doubly important that my children were with the right carers, with the right clothes and accessories and timetables had been shared!
Being focused will enable you to achieve your goals for both your business and your personal life; having focus in either part of your life or part of your week will make the “downtime” more rewarding, fulfilling and enjoyable; and that’s why we work so hard is it not?
Michelle Poole – Virtual Hand
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