While we can’t all be super efficient robots working at maximum capacity, there are a few tricks that the average person can do to manage their time effectively. These tricks are easy to understand and simple to begin implementing today. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to `Time Management 101’.
Probably the most integral key to being efficient is having a plan and sticking to it. The old saying, "He who fails to plan, plans to fail." absolutely rings true. In the case of time management, the best plan of attack is in the form of a priority list. Quite simply, it’s a list of everything that must be done in order to complete a particular project ranked in order of importance. The idea is to complete the most important tasks first and work your way down the list until your work day is complete. The final part of my day always ends with the creation of a new priority list for the next day. It’s perfectly fine if everything was not completed on my original list, as I merely move it over to the next day’s list and prioritize accordingly.
One word of advice is to never check your emails first thing in the morning. Sure it can be a fun and easy way to start your day, but it absolutely stifles productivity. You will find that several hours can easily fly by with nothing accomplished. The checking of emails should be done later in the day for a predetermined amount of time. This is also why I stress completing your priority list at the end of each workday. You need to knock out the first task on your priority list, and keep moving. You would be surprised how much momentum this will give you to complete more tasks even faster!
Distractions (especially the internal ones) can be our biggest enemies when trying to manage our time properly. Keeping a good priority list will help you stay on task and visualize exactly what is most important at that moment. You want to make sure that you stick to the list, and avoid multitasking. Far too many people begin working on a priority and then get side tracked by other items on the list, resulting in several half completed tasks. The most efficient method is to work on one task at a time and only move on as each task is completed. You must remember not to deviate from the flow of the priority list, or you will surely stay floundering in one place.
With that being said, one should not forget about the possible external distractions either. You must start by shutting off your email, and turning off any other computer programs that can disrupt your train of thought. The telephone can also prove to be a distraction, and can be combated by setting predetermined phone times. During productivity hours, the phone should be silenced, with callers directed to a voice mail. If you work from home, you should never put yourself in a situation where you will be distracted by outside forces. This can be done by creating an office space away from any disturbance (television, crying baby, barking dog, individuals conversing). In an office setting, the biggest problem is `overly social’ coworkers. It’s your duty as an effective time manager to convey the message to overly social coworker that you value your time, and will not fall prey to wasting time conversing.
Time management is actually quite obtainable after you put your mind to it. Once you plan out your day properly, it’s just a matter of systematically following the steps until completion. Even if you begin to waiver off course with distractions from time to time, following the list will always guide you back on track. Start using just a few of these simple strategies today and you will surely see an increase in productivity.