5 Time Management Tips

May 3, 2011 mattd

“I need a little time to think things over, I need a little time to work things out…” sang the Beautiful South, ages ago.

And that’s something we all need isn’t it? A little bit more time.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

Someone called Harvey McKay said that. I have no idea who he is, but I like what he says.

But how many of us use our time truly efficiently?

You see time is the one thing that we all have in common, all walks of life, all types of business people, every day lasts for 24 hours – for all of us. Now I’m not saying that we should all live Jack Bauer-style days with no room for eating, drinking or toilet breaks, but the majority of us could definitely manage our time better.

Here’s five ideas to get started with:

1) Keep A To-Do List
I’ve talked about this before in my blog post about procrastination but my to-do list is the most important thing on my desk. I write down what I need to do and prioritise it. At the end of every working day, I transfer anything that hasn’t been done onto a new to-do list and start again the next day. I consider that everything I achieved off of the original list was a priority, and therefore every evening I have a good idea as to what the next day holds.

2) Be Organised
Set up your emails, e-documents and physical documents in an easy-to-navigate system. I’ve seen countless senior managers in the past who don’t organise their emails into folders, and it’s so easy to do. If you spend ten minutes a day searching for files you can’t initially find, that’s virtually four hours per month, or four working days per year!

3) Stick To Your Task
I read recently that the average person, once interrupted, takes eight minutes to continue with the task they were working on. Tips to avoid this are to say ‘no’ more often, or only check and respond to emails at certain times of the day, rather than as they come in to your inbox.

4) Schedule Your Meetings Cleverly
As I live a little out in the sticks, this matters hugely to me. If I have meetings planned in London, I’ll do my best to have them all on the same day. A round trip to London for me is three hours, just in travelling. It makes much more sense for me to only have to do that once if possible, even if I can work on the train…

5) Delegate or Outsource
Do you really have to be doing that project yourself? Spending some time training a colleague or even outsourcing to a third party could save you time and money in the longer-term. For example, my clients outsource their Social Media and marketing work to me to free up more time for them to concentrate on their other business strengths.

6) Play Games!
OK I know I said five and so now I’m effectively wasting time too, but there are some great Time Management games available, as well as apps for your iPhone or Android phone. This site had stacks of downloadable games, but try not to get distracted while you’re there 🙂

What are your tips on time management? Let me know…

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