Short and simple. 3 more top tips on time management. If you are looking to improve your work life balance and/or time management, my suggestion is this: read the 3 tips and undertake to try out just one new one each month. Just try it, it may not work for you, but there will be loads more to try. And I'm only suggesting you try one new one per month. Why? Well, you know that feeling you get when you are so busy, you know what you should be doing, you know there is a better way, but just can't find the time to introduce any new changes into your schedule (change usually means investment of some sort doesn't it, surely time investment is the last thing I can afford right now). Well that feeling is permanent with some of us, we are always too busy to change. So, try just one thing for one month, that's not a huge extra time commitment is it? Here goes, 3 top time management tips:
I) The 'have done' list. No it's not a typo, I do really mean a 'have done' list. Forget 'to do' lists, they've been done to death (Just google 'to do' list now and you'll see what I mean. Yep that really was 1,150 million results). A 'have done' list is simply a list of all your daily achievements, big or small, high value or worthless, they all go on you 'have done' list.
What's the point, I hear you ask? Well there's loads of points, but here are just a few which will help you improve your time management:
1) you can see at a glance where all your time is going
2) this helps you track over time, patterns, tendencies, tasks that you always have time for, those things that are getting done but also those that never get on the list
3)you can make a comparison between what's on the 'have done' list and your core goals. Map across and decide if you are getting a good ROI on your time in relation to your core goals
4) assess the value you have derived from your 'have dones' and ask yourself should I have done that, at all? (Remember my maxim 'just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should')
5) personal satisfaction. You will see at a glance what you have achieved. It will make you feel good and that will motivate you to go on and achieve even more.
Steel yourself for your findings, you may be in shock.
Where did I come up with this one, you may ask? Two things I will tell you. While, mapping your time to your core goals is vital in optimising your ROI, it's the last point that really does it for me. Particularly, when I'm spending a high percentage of time on business development and it's very difficult to reap immediate reward. It's that last point that keeps me going. And second, did you ever add something to your 'to do' list after you had done it? Well you just turned it into a 'have done' list. Yep, we've all been there. As yourself, why did I do that?
II) Escape the emails. Last time, I talked generally about 'saying no to interruptions'. This time I want to get more specific and kill those email interruptions for once and for all. Why do we do it? I'm not talking 'blackberry on the beach' syndrome here (that's for another day). I'm imploring us to ask ourselves what is the lure of that 'blinking' email. Whether its the 'new mail has arrived' missive or the bolded unread email squatting there, bursting to be opened, we just cannot turn our back on them.
Firstly though I have to answer the question, why does it matter? Well its just not efficient to be clicking through on emails every 5 minutes. Now I know some people will tell me that its the crux of their job (in that case you might want to think of a bit of job re-engineering) and others say its more efficient to deal with them as they come in to avoid a backlog. Well I beg to differ. Think about when you return from holiday. 400 emails, all battling for your attention. How long does it take to whizz through them then? Well a lot less time than doing them one by one. Ok this is an extreme example but it illustrates the efficiency point very well; it takes a lot less time to deal with batches of similar items that it does to attack them piecemeal. The batching terminology I am borrowing from Mark Forster and I love it because it reminds me of efficient cooks making big batches of family meals to put in the freezer. Call it want you like, batching, chunking up, clustering, it sure does save time.
But there is a second advantage to this approach. It gives you the opportunity to get some uninterrupted 'flow' time. The term 'flow', coined by Csikszentmihalyi, also know as being 'in the zone' refers to that state when you are fully immersed in what you are doing, 100% focussed, total concentration, almost oblivious to what's going on around you. It feels great but it is also an extremely productive state when you are likely to be at your most creative, productive, sharpest, problem solving best and producing your highest performance.
So don't let those pesky emails jeopardise your 'flow' time. You know what to do. Work away from the PC, switch off outloook, certainly switch off 'new mail has arrived, do you want to read it' and treat yourself to email-reading mini fests, 2, 3, 4 times a day at set times. And go for 'flow'.
III) Race against the clock. Remember Parkinson's Law ' work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion'. Its simple supply and demand economics; the lower the cost, the greater the demand. If you give yourself have time, your task will fill it. Try creating a bit of scarcity with your time. Set yourself start and finish deadlines. Go for a tad of self-imposed pressure, and just see what happens!
If you would like to find out more about individual and group coaching on Time Management, just email me at Info@worksmartplayhard.co.uk