How to be ‘Time Smart’

I am often asked how I manage my time, with so many clients to deal with, emails, phone calls and social media interactions to manage. The answer is – I plan and here are some of my tips of how to manage your time smartly, if you have lots of things to do and not enough time to do them in.

Make a ‘Weekly To Do List’

At the beginning of each week, create a list of tasks that are outstanding and give them each a priority rating.

  • 1) Urgent – Needs to completed today
  • 2) Important – Needs to be completed this week
  • 3) Not Important – Needs to completed this month
  • 4) Personal Tasks – Only do these things once 1) is done
  • 5) Low – Needs to be completed but no specific timescale

At the end of the week, re-do your list, your priority 1’s should be complete, and the other tasks can be re-prioritised, depending on deadlines. It’s worth adding a ‘deadline’ date as well.

For example:

Weekly Task List

Make a ‘busy day’ schedule

If you have back to back meetings, phone calls, things to do, places to be and still have to fit in walking the dog and meeting your friend for a drink after work, plan your day around your scheduled appointments and fill in the gaps with things you can do on the way or in between.

For example

Busy day schedule

Learn to estimate how long it takes to complete a task

Work out how long a task is going to take so that you can schedule in your time more accurately. Keep a record of how long you estimate a task to take and record how long it actually took, so that you know for future planning. Don’t under-estimate how long something takes and then end up with tasks still not completed at the end of the week.

If necessary build in extra slack into you day or allow 50% more time than you originally estimated to complete a task. Conversely do not get into the habit of using up 2 hours of time if you can finish the task in an hour, don’t ‘waste’ time if you have over-estimated.

Use a stop watch or alarm to remind you every 30 minutes, so that you can check if you are on track with your timings.

For example:

Task Estimation

Plan your day in sections

Your mind cannot concentrate for 8 hours at a time and stay focussed all that time. If you are planning to be in your office all day, break up your day into 90 minute ‘productive time’ periods and work through your tasks during that time.

Then every morning and afternoon plan in 30 minutes of ‘non-productive time’ so that you can move aside from your tasks and schedule. Use this time to either get out of the office, grab a coffee, take a walk or just move away from your computer screen or the phone.

Also plan in one 30 minutes session every day for ‘quick wins’ where you can work really fast through lots of smaller tasks, to enable you to clear your backlog.

For example

Daily Planner

In summary

  • Have a weekly to do list and tick off tasks, re-prioritise throughout the week
  • Only create a day list for really busy days that take you out of the office or you have back to back meetings, phone calls etc.
  • Estimate how long tasks will take, record how long they actually take and plan better for the future
  • Plan in ‘productive’ and ‘non-productive’ times into your day and don’t get distracted by email, social media and the internet

If you need some coaching on how to organise your time, get on top of your tasks and generally make a bit of time for yourself, get in touch. These are only some of the techniques we use, and for once a month over a 6 month period, we work with you to help you learn some of these techniques. Let us organise you.

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