"Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else" ~ Peter F. Drucker
Having spent most of my working life as an EA/PA, I have witnessed first-hand how time management is essential to business growth and success. The most accomplished of all those I have worked for were those with strong time management skills. Being constructive with your time means constantly reviewing and improving your working practices. To assume that time management is purely behavioural and just merely working through the tasks on your to-do list, is a mistake made by many who struggle with time management. Our cognitive techniques, how we mentally prepare and approach time management, are essential to the development of productive time management skills.
1. Stay ahead - get an early start.
The time you schedule to schedule your time is crucial. Creating a plan in the morning, or the night before gives you an overview of how your day will progress and you’re better equipped for a more productive day.
2. Know your goals, create a plan daily & prioritise wisely.
Be realistic about what’s achievable when establishing your goals. You can’t do everything at once so prioritise and focus on the task at hand. Checking tasks off your list will provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep going.
3. Plan ahead & make preparations ~ target to be early.
Preparation is a prerequisite to planning. You wouldn’t plan a meal without ingredients! Preparation is needed to do the work. Doing your homework in advance ensures you’re able to remedy any shortfalls and are better prepared for the unexpected. Habitually investing time in preparation reduces stress and increases confidence.
4. Eliminate distractions.
Create a working environment that’s free of external distractions and is conducive to concentration. Have set times during the day to answer calls and emails.
5. Apply complete focus to one task at a time ~ deliberating over the totality of your to-do list is counterproductive.
A to-do list can seem overwhelming, so focus on one key task at a time. Try dedicating a set amount of time to each task and disconnecting from all distractions (phone, email, social media). Breaking each task into sections can also make the work less daunting and more achievable.
6. Don't trifle over insignificant detail ~ maintain a positive mindset.
Don't waste time and energy believing everything will get done in exactly the way you want. It’s easy to lose focus over minor details. When you find yourself getting stressed over a task, give yourself a break to re-evaluate and assess a different and essentially more productive way of managing the task.
7. Turn key tasks into habits.
Ultimately, our habits become a way of life. If we choose to follow a routine, we are less likely to waste time getting started. It requires a lot of perseverance, effort and self-discipline but the results are undoubtedly more rewarding.
8. Remember, there’s no room for success in procrastination.
It’s impossible to procrastinate your way to success! Success is in the ‘doing’. It has been said that both fear and desire can motivate human behaviour. The desire for the rewards when accomplishing tasks for example or the fear of the consequences if tasks remain incomplete and on-going. It’s down to us to determine what motivates us to move from a to z in order to be more constructive with our time and this too requires self-discipline and determination.
9. Look after yourself & leave a buffer-time between task.
There’s no denying that plenty of sleep, exercise and eating well are essential and necessary for a better quality of life both personally and professionally. During the working day, it is also necessary to take ‘time out’ as there’s often a fine line between staying focussed and taking things too seriously. A buffer time gives you an opportunity to step back and review what you're undertaking.
10. Establish whether undertaking admin tasks are a valuable use of your time - could they be completed more efficiently if outsourced?
Assessing what’s a good use of your time is necessary when establishing productive time management skills. Spending a lot of time on tasks which are time-consuming and don’t come naturally and you don’t enjoy isn’t constructive. As they say, you can do anything, but not everything!
There are many repetitive and time-consuming tasks involved in running a business and these tasks can become overwhelming. Delegation is key.
“Spend the bulk of your time in your Superpower ~ the things you love to do and excel at ~ and delegate the rest”