The key to time-management is self-management, building your personal and business life around your individual needs and desired outcomes through planned and measured activities. Time management is, in fact, the ultimate in self-improvement because it is the foundation for achieving your goals in every aspect of your life.
As a business coach, I have worked with hundreds of people in all sorts of businesses and professions. By far their most common complaint:
“I don’t have time to get everything done.”
Yes they do.
Time is the only thing in life I can think of that we all have the same amount of. There is no way to manage time – you must manage yourself within the time you have. There are 24 hours in everyday and there is no way to manage your way out of that. So, to a great extent, how we manage our time determines whether you succeed or not.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~ Michael Altshuler, architect, teacher
The basis of effective time management is goal setting. To be really effective, goal setting needs to be done in time spans and must be put in writing.
The first is long range, what you’d like to accomplish in 3 to 5 years.
Then what do you want to achieve in the next year. Make yearly goals S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
The third involves breaking the 12-month goals down to the activities that need to be achieved over the first 90 days to be on track for the 12-month goals. And the final time increment breaks the 90-day goals down to the first week. Then measure the results from the first week and set the activities for the next week.
This process will help make it easier to delegate activities to appropriately skilled staff and will reduce personal stress on everyone in the company from the owner down. And there will be increased productivity and profitability no matter what the external business or economic conditions.
A business owner in particular will have the feeling of being in control of his or her life and destiny. The feeling of achievement through personal discipline is very powerful.
Here are seven suggestions to achieve better management of business operations and more effective use of your time:
- Delegate activities to the staff with appropriate skills. Manage this approach through an organizational structure and individual “positional agreements” appropriate to the size of your organization.
- Prioritize your daily work by reviewing the next day’s important activities in a ‘to do list’ at the end of each day. You can maximize personal productivity by focusing on this list the next day. And don’t do what’s not on the list. Resist the urge to be distracted and to do things that you enjoy more.
- Handle each piece of paper only once and never more than twice: Don’t set aside anything without taking action.
- Clean up your desk and office shelves once a month. Categorize everything into four groups: Do it, Delegate it, Defer it and Dump it. Before getting rid of anything, ask, “What is the worst that can happen if the item was gone?” If the answer is “nothing,” dump it.
- Put your calls and personal interruptions on hold for one hour, two hours or whatever is appropriate to your task at hand. It is amazing how much work can be achieved by using this simple technique and not being distracted by a phone call or personal interruption.
- Learn to say “no.” This maybe the most effective way to maximize your use of time and is often the hardest word to use in business. Make sure that if you don’t say “no,” it is because the activity is important in the context of your role in the business.
- Make sure you set aside personal relaxation time during every work day. Don’t work during lunch. That’s generally counterproductive. We all need “battery recharge time.” The harder you work, the more you need to balance your leisure and exercise time.
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