What is Time Management – Where Does the Time Go?

Time Management ClockThe First Time Management Skill: Identifying and Dealing with Your Time Wasters

Does your day pretty much end with the same comment, “Where has the day gone?” How CAN you do so much work, but, always, at the end of the day, there is so much more left to do. The first, and most important, real time management skill is identifying the time wasters in your day and getting them under control. Here are five of the most common time wasters, and some suggestions about what to do with them.

Online Distractions

Every time waster in the world is available 24/7 on the internet: games, up to the minute news (my favorite), YouTube videos, humor, great sayings (even about wasting time – like: “Your greatest resource is your time.” ~ Brian Tracy), forums, FaceBook, Twitter, and so much more. How do you keep these distractions from eating into your day?

First of all, take a good hard look at what you’re doing all day. Do you NEED to check your email EVERY HOUR? (What I have always liked about email is its, “asynchronous” nature… you don’t have to treat is like Instant Messaging – you can get an email, research your answer, and respond intelligently rather than quickly responding with the wrong answer.) Would you REALLY miss an important comment if you only looked at FaceBook once or twice a day instead of 8 – 10? And so on.

Find these distractions and control them. The easiest way is to schedule them – allot just certain times for email, phone, FaceBook, YouTube, etc. Set aside just 15 minutes a day for Facebook. When the 15 minutes are up, LEAVE! Same for email, phone, and the rest.

Interruptions

Whether you work in a home office or at a business away from home interruptions are a fact of life. At home, the kids come home for lunch, or the home phone rings… in the office, people, “drop in” to discuss their current project… always there will be interruptions. Everyone’s favorite thing to hate is a, “Do Not Disturb” sign. But actually TELLING interrupters not to bother you right now – and enforcing it – is one of the best time management strategies to them at bay. When interruptions occur, and they will, deal with them ONLY IF YOU MUST. The rest should be scheduled for later. This way you can keep YOUR FOCUS on what is critical for you, and get it done, then give the interruptions the attention THEY deserve.

Why THIS Meeting?

Scrutinize every meeting request… will the meeting help business, or is it a totally “meaningless meeting” that will do nothing but suck up too much of your valuable time. Turn down any meetings that aren’t absolutely essential. If you must attend, make sure the convener has a definite published agenda and make sure they stick to it. Be prepared to walk out at the scheduled end of the meeting – even if its objectives have yet to be met. Meeting conveners will learn to make sure meetings move along their desired end, and other attendees will appreciate the time you’re saving them. (Try a meeting WITHOUT CHAIRS! This will get it done quickly!)

Multitasking

Multitasking does NOT save time. As you shift from one project to another, you must refocus your mind for each one, and the net effect is that NONE of the projects get the attention they deserve, and worse, each individual project actually takes longer because of the constant refocusing or your attention. So projects take longer, and don’t come out as well… just say NO to multitasking!

Too Many Hours does NOT Equal More Done

You’ll actually LOSE HOURS by working too many hours. When I outlawed “all niters” in my production department, we found that the hours rest we got each night allowed us to be more focused and more productive during the hours we did work – and eliminated the NEED for all niters – go figure! It showed that, for most people, long hours don’t really add up to greater productivity. Tired minds and bodies just don’t focus as well. So, even if you do have to work a lot of extra hours, make sure you take refreshing beaks to keep your mind and body clear and able to really focus to get the work done well.

Track Your Time!

One of the better ways to make sure your time is used most effectively is to “Track It!” Keep detailed records on a time management table of what you do each day – this is especially critical if you charge for your time, and will teach you to make sure your time is properly used, and make sure you budget the right amount of time for future projects rather than losing time – and money – by wasting time.

This is installment 1 of this series (category) on Time Management Benefits. Start taking these steps to start managing your time, and watch for the next in our Time Management Tips series. These posts will be alternating (in my old Navy terms, Port and Starboard) with my series on Reputation Management.




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