Small Business

Time management – three tips to stay on task

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Time management rule number one is good and simple. Acknowledge that there is no way you can possibly manage time – throw the very idea out the window (another definition of making time fly). If you want to make the most out of the completely inflexible, and incredibly stubborn, 24 hours in a day, the only course of action is to observe and change your own behaviour.

Here are three tips to manage your workload so you can make the most of your time and skills.

Time management tip #1 – make a list

Create a daily to-do list and update it regularly. Group similar tasks together so that your list has at least a modicum of organisation.

Then, break down the larger tasks into smaller actionable points. By simplifying the task, it will seem more manageable, allowing you to easily get started and monitor your progress throughout.

Next, set deadlines for each task, prioritising each according to its urgency. Set realistic timeframes for task completion but ensure they aren’t too flexible so you can avoid procrastination.

Now that you know what your tasks are and when they are due, allocating you’re the time you have to the tasks that deserve it most will be easier with more productive results. Failing to plan is planning to fail – keep the saying top of mind. 

Time management tip #2 – create an efficient environment

It’s easy to get distracted. For effective time management, create a productive work environment. For example, create a clearly designated in-tray for your desk so co-workers know to put incoming mail or work there when you are not there or in the middle of something.

Organise your desk and computer so that all files and paperwork has its place and no time is wasted scouring your belongings for lost information.

Finally, set up ‘no contact’ times – turn on your voicemail, close your email inbox and stay on task, at least for an hour a day so that those urgent tasks can have your undivided attention.

Time management tip #3 – goal setting is next to godliness

Check your to-do list and decide which three tasks you want to cross off today. By setting actionable and time-sensitive daily goals, the hours you spend working on them will be more driven. And think of that satisfied feeling of crossing them off at the day’s end.

Finally, keep an eye on the clock. If one task is eating up all your time, and it is not essential or demanding, take a step back and think of the bigger picture – what can you do to complete this task within a reasonable time period so that it doesn’t compromise other more pressing tasks?

And to get more bang from your time management buck, set yourself larger goals which you can strive towards. And, remember to reward yourself once you’ve satisfactorily completed them (even if it’s just getting up to make a congratulatory coffee). Success and growth in your career will be the consequent results of a commitment to better time management.

Published on: Thursday, November 25, 2010

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