Finish your to do list with time management skills
Key take away points from this article.
- To do lists
- What is time management
- Time management skills
- Effective time management
- Importance of time management
- Time management tips
- Time management techniques
There are few modern business or personal environments where people are not using some form or to do list. The challenge for many is how to use their time in a productive and effective way to ensure this list remains clear and manageable. To emerge from your battle of the endless to do list, it is best to explore a solution through time management.
Have you ever joined a time management course? I suspect that the average office manager with 15 years of experience has attended many. Why is there a need to attend these courses? What benefit do they provide long term? And hey, what is time management anyway?
What is time management?
This can be explained simply as a method of conscious control of the amount of time spent on a given task.
Why bother with time management, what is the importance of time management? Most companies try to reduce costs through boosting productivity. Thus by measuring the amount of time spend on tasks and actions, helps identify important step improvements for efficiency and overall effectiveness.
Effective time management
One thing is to record the time spent on tasks, another is to have an effective system and process to ensure your time management system works.
The key for any time spent on any system (yes that includes the time spent on a time management system) needs to provide sufficient return on investment.
Understanding critical success factors (CSF) for a business and within your own life will help identify the priority areas to help concentrate your time to specific tasks and functions. These are the key areas that a business can apply to become more productive through its operations management, process, systems and staff.
Time management skills
There are many time management skills that can be developed. A priority is to understand which skill or set of skills you will need to work on and develop. See my below list of questions to help identify some and clarify some areas that effect your time that are and are not under your control:
- Are you a lists person?
- Are you a morning or night person?
- How much time can you/do you control yourself in your day?
- What “redundant tasks” are you involved with?
- Are you already aware of a time management issue personally or at business?
- How do you best interact with information? Paper, phone, desktop, whiteboard, mobile?
- What times of the day do you feel more productive?
- Do you have clear access to things that need doing today, tomorrow, this week?
Once you have gained an overview to the above answers you need to ask some more personal questions
- How motivated am I to perform this task?
- How do my personal values and ethics relate to this task?
- What can I learn from this task/experience?
- How can I create some enjoyment or reward from this task?
- See my prior articles on gamification to find methods of enjoyment in tasks
Time management techniques
- Define and understand fully your short, medium and long term goals.
- Plan your time rigorously; this should include “buffer time” to allow slight cross over of tasks, events and circumstances. This is not an excuse to use the time to procrastinate!
- Many suggestions focus on week long tasks. I suggest splitting this down further to 3 blocks. Block 1) Weekend, Block 2) Monday-Wednesday, Block 3) Thursday-Friday task blocks. Micro time blocks will/may also be needed.
- Write a to do list that is relevant to your short, medium, long term goals.
- Define where you will be most effective for each task. Is there the possibility to have a walking meeting? Are your power point slides or report best updated when on your train commute?
Time management tips.
A priority step is to first identify what actions are been taken throughout the day. There is often a significant difference between what is thought to be done as opposed to what is been done! Below is an image extract of a free template we can share.
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After conducting a review of the actions performed in a week it becomes very clear which TYPE of activity needs to be addressed. Do not become too tactical with your review; it is the signal and not the noise of actions you should be seeking to identify.
Delegate, automate and where possible eliminate less urgent and less important actions. By doing so, more meaningful work and results are attained.
How does JAMSO use time management?
There are many techniques and skills that can be developed. What worked for me 10 years is different that works for me today.
I personally run a range of time management devices and templates. I have a paper calendar that highlights which subjects needs to be covered by when for these articles. I have automatic reminders on my smartphone and desktop computer for other tasks. These can be anything from “meeting with x client at y O’clock” to “pick up daughter from gymnastics”.
I am fortunate to have developed good working practices with time management although I take part in my own refresher training periodically, just to freshen up and optimize techniques and skills.
Has this been of help to you? Let me know what time management challenges you face in your personal life or business life.
Further Reference Material and Reading:
- We have created a free list of over 60 different resources on Pinterest covering time management and productivity. Please review this resource periodically as it will continue to grow over time.
- Here is a list of time management apps
- A must read for time management and productivity advocates is Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done book #GTD
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