Back to home page click here
HOW TO USE TIME WELL
- Take an overview of the current use of your time and whether you think you need to adjust this allocation. Do you spend enough time with your family or do you spend too much time working? Do you spend enough time increasing your knowledge and skills or do you spend all your time using your existing knowledge and skills? Are there some things on which you would like to spend less time, such as attending meetings or using the computer? Are there some things on which you you would like to spend more time, such as reading, socialising or travelling? Develop a clear view on the broad allocation of time that you would like to achieve before you start working through the following more detailed tips.
- Don't say you don't have enough time. You have the same number of hours per day as Leonardo da Vinci or Isaac Newton had and as the President of the United States or the General Secretary of the United Nations have.
- Plan your day. Some things have to be done today - for example, attending a pre-arranged meeting or sending a birthday card.
- Plan your week. Some things might need to be done sometime this week - for example, drafting a speech to be delivered next week or going to the gym.
- Plan your month. Some things are best done monthly - for example, holding a departmental meeting or having a haircut or visiting the theatre.
- Plan your year. Other things require a longer timescale - for example, when you are going to do your staff appraisals or take your annual leave or go abroad on holiday.
- As far as possible, make your all objectives SMART - that is: Specific Measurable Achievable Resourced Timed
- Do the most important things first. This sounds so obvious. But most of us tend to do first the things that are easiest or most pleasant.
- Stay focused. Once you have decided what are the most important things to do, stay with them, even when new (but still less important) things come along - as they inevitably will.
- Use lists. This helps you to remember what needs to be done and it's very satisfying to tick off the items as you complete them.
- Don't worry if you don't get everything done. The only person who got everything done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe.
- Approach every event you attend - a meeting, a conference, a reception, even a discussion - by asking yourself: "What do I want from this?". Make sure then that you endeavour to achieve the objectives you have determined.
- After every event you attend, determine what actions you need to take - maybe you promised someone an e-mail or you heard of a report that you should check out - and implement those actions straightwaway.
- Allow time to read the agenda papers before a meeting. Focus then on what you want out of that meeting.
- Before you leave the meeting, prepare a list of your action points arising from the meeting. Implement them the same or the next day.
- When you're going to a meeting outside the office, see if you can schedule it before or after a meeting in the same location or, if not, see if you can see someone before or after the meeting in or near that location. This will maximise the use of your time and make the travelling worth it.
- Study the executive summary in a report and look through the contents list and index of a book before you even think of spending the time to read the whole thing.
- Every time you produce a major piece of work, think about how you can reuse it. A briefing paper can be the basis of a speech; a speech can be summarised into an article; any of these can be turned into a 'page' on a web site or - at the least - a blog posting or a comment on Facebook or Twiiter..
- Work on several projects at once, regularly noting down ideas and sources and drafting paragraphs and sections. That way, when the project is complete, it will be all the richer for having spent longer thinking about it.
- Always have with you something with which you can make notes, so that you can jot down ideas or information before you forget them. It might just be a note book or the notes section of your smartphone.
- Always have a smartphone with you. Then you can use downtime or waiting time or even dull sections of meetings to check your e-mail or the news or to send a message or note down ideas.
- Even when you go to bed, have some means of making notes by the bedside It might be a note pad or your smartphone. It's amazing what great ideas you can have as you're falling asleep or waking up. If you don't want to be bothered to write things down immediately, throw something (like a slipper) away from the bed so that, when you do get up, you're reminded that you had an idea.
- Learn to power nap. A short sleep during the day can allow you to keep going and to be more productive for longer. It worked very well for Winston Churchill.
- Have a couple of reference books and few magazines in the toilet (or washroom for Canadians or bathroom for Americans) so that, if you're there for a while, you can browse and learn.
- When shaving (men usually!) or making up (women usually!!), have the radio on a news station, so that you can keep up with events.
- Try to work more from home, saving valuable time - as well as money and energy. This is especially useful when you need to think or have a special project or urgent deadline.
- When travelling on the underground or on a bus, tram, train or aircraft, always have a newspaper, magazine or book with you. You can use the time to read and you can never be sure how long the journey is going to last.
- Network constantly. At a conference, make a point of speaking to people you don't know. At a party, move around and meet lots of people. At a dinner party, talk to each guest.
- See everything as a learning opportunity. On a cab ride, sit in the front and talk to the driver. In a queue (that's a line to you Americans), talk to the person in front and behind. Everyone can teach you something.
- Keep a comprehensive and up-to-date record of all contact details for all your relatives, friends and acquaintances, ideally in a format that is always with you, such as a smartphone or tablet computer, so that you can always contact anyone any way.
- Keep details of all birthdays and anniversaries, again ideally in a format that is always with you. Make sure you never miss those of your relatives and friends and, when you see them on the day, congratulate colleagues.
- Keep a stock of cards for all occasions - birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, weddings - and of course plenty of stamps. That way, you can immediately and appropriately mark any occasion that you wish without having to run round to the shop or post office.
- Put in a spread sheet the names and addresses of all those to whom you send Christmas cards. That way, you won't have to write out the details every year and the postie won't have to struggle with your rushed handwriting.
- Send a standard Christmas letter. If you're networking a lot, you'll have many friends and you can't write a chatty and informative note in every Christmas card. Friends are interested in your news and won't mind a circular letter, personalised with an extra sentence or two.
- A computer is an essential tool for many time management tips. So, if you're not already an owner of a computer and comfortable with its use, buy something suitable for your needs and if necessary go on a training course.
- Build up a great set of favourites or bookmarks of the web sites you find most useful. These might include news, weather and travel sites plus sites relevant to your work or interests.
- Learn some good search techniques to use with a web search engine like Google, so that you can find any information you want quickly.
- Be selective about the books you read. Most people are too busy to read many books, so only read the fiction books that you're really going to enjoy or the non-fiction books that are going to give you new information or insights. If it becomes apparent that you haven't chosen well, don't be reluctant to abandon the read and move to something more suitable.
- Be selective about the television you watch. Instead of just sitting down and watching what happens to be on the set at the time, look at a weekly programe of forthcoming programmes, set up a PVR to record them , and then every programme you watch will be something you have actively chosen (and you can zip through the advertisements).
- Do more of your shopping on-line, especially the weekly groceries and any books and music that you know you want.
- Go on lots of short courses. You'll get more out of five one-day courses than one one-week course.
- Go on a time management course. You might learn something that is not in these tips - but it will cost you more.
- Be economical with your time. Most meetings are too long; try to shorten them. Most reports are too long; you don't have to read every word. You can always spend more time preparing, but the benefit per unit of time decreases with each unit of time. So be tough with your allocation of time.
- Finally, don't take these tips too seriously. We all need time to chill out and recharge our emotional batteries. Sometimes allow yourself to do nothing. After all, you've earned it by following most of these tips most of the time!
Last modified on 19 July 2013
If you have some ideas of your own e-mail me
To access all my advice on life skills click here
Back to home page click here