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Mastering Time

10 Sep 2013 10:54 AM - Time Management in the modern business environment

We live in a world that is busier, more connected and changing faster than ever before. With such complicated lives, time management has become a highly valued skill.

In fact, with so much to do every day, managing time can seem like a constant battle to cram more tasks into less time.

The problem is, time usually wins.  While our lives have become much busier, the amount of hours we have in a day has remained the same.  We can’t change that but we can be more creative about how we use the time available to us.  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1.  What’s non-negotiable?

There may be some meetings you simply must attend, reports that have to be completed or jobs you just can’t avoid.

2.  What changes can you advocate for?

Your report may be non-negotiable but could its format be simplified? Could you suggest making meetings more useful and less lengthy with a clear agenda and some preparatory work?

3.  What can you delegate or swap?

Is there someone already doing a task on your list so you could share it?  Maybe you can swap tasks that drain you with someone who thrives on them?  Or maybe there’s a student or people doing work experience who needs some new opportunities?

4.  What can you combine?

Can you write one report that meets the needs of two different managers?  Or combine a professional development session with a team building activity?  Be careful about multitasking – trying to do two or three important tasks at once usually means your brain can’t focus enough to do any of them and you’re left exhausted.  Just multitask simple stuff like folding flyers while you watch television or making a phone call while you’re photocopying.

5.  What could be more efficient?

Would a tighter meeting agenda keep your team focused?  Could you develop a standard template for letters you send often?  Or maybe you could make better use of your electronic calendar?  To really discover what time you might be wasting, keep track of how much time you spend on tasks for a couple of days. 

6.  How can you empower others to be more efficient?

Can you support other team members to prepare for meetings or train the Chair to keep meetings on track?  Maybe you could support staff so they eventually come to you with a potential issue and a solution, rather than just a list of problems?

We have so much to do and so many options in our world today that we can’t possibly fit them all in our lives.  Prioritising what we’ll do with the time we have is far less exhausting and allows us to be much more productive.  The sense of fulfilment created by focusing on what’s most important can also never be achieved by constantly cramming tasks into short spaces of time.