You need to set goals. Refer to my 1/3/17 blog on goal setting. If you don’t know what you’re looking to accomplish, it’s impossible to determine and prioritize what needs to be done. Goals help you focus and direct your efforts on what’s important.
You need to create an environment conducive for effectiveness. Having a work environment that’s comfortable, organized and with access to the tools needed is imperative to your efficiency and effectiveness. Have a comfortable chair. Keep your desk clear and organized. Have easy access to your computer, phone, files and any other tools you use. Have an office with a door that can be closed for privacy to avoid interruptions. Have enough light or windows for natural light. Decorate it with personal effects.
Use to-do lists for tasks to be done. Group related tasks together. Prioritize tasks. There are a number of techniques for prioritizing tasks. ABC analysis prioritizes tasks into three groups; A tasks are urgent and important, B tasks are important but not urgent, C tasks are neither urgent nor important. The Pareto analysis says that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take 80% of the time. Tasks in the first category would receive a higher priority to increase productivity. The Eisenhower Method groups tasks into 4 quadrants; urgent /important are done personally and immediately, not urgent/important get an end date and are done personally, not important/urgent are delegated and not important/not urgent are dropped. Don’t document routine tasks that are done automatically.
Create an action program to implement your to-do lists. Start your day by planning what needs to be done, getting organized and setting up what you’ll need. Google, Outlook and Evernote provide good calenders for scheduling. Identify what time you have to work with. Schedule essential actions, priorities, contingency time and discretionary time. Analyze your activities. Keeping an activity log of your activities, date and time, duration, value and feelings will help with analysis of your activities to improve productivity. Start with tasks that are priorities, need to be done first, would be done better in the morning or are most difficult. Don’t multi-task! Multi-tasking is a misnomer since we can only do one thing at any given time. Focus on one activity at a time before moving on to next activity. Multi-tasking can cost you 20-40% in lost productivity. Minimize interruptions. Close your office door with a do not disturb sign on it if you’re busy with tasks. Schedule inter-actions with colleagues to avoid interruptions. If urgent interruptions happen, address them then return to the task at hand. Schedule in contingency time to handle unpredictable events and interruptions. Turn off instant messenger, voicemail, email and Social Media notifications. Check messages, voicemails, emails and Social Media notifications and respond to them at designated times and regular intervals throughout the day. Prioritize messages, calls, emails and notifications. Handle priorities and file the rest. Have a tickler file to follow-up on future ones by necessary dates. Minimize meetings, schedule as needed. Meetings waste time. If you have to schedule meetings, schedule them at your office. If you have to schedule meetings on the road, schedule them efficiently to avoid wasting travel time. Handle as much as possible more efficiently though messages, phone calls, email and Social Media. Organize files. Avoid saving unnecessary documents. Use hierarchical directory structures. Follow a consistent method for naming your files and folders. Store related documents together. Separate ongoing work from completed work. Avoid overfilling folders. Make digital copies of paper documents with a scanner. Organize your files by date. Use tickler files. Back-up your files automatically using Dropbox, iCloud or Mozy allowing you to access them from any device. Delegate work to others that can be delegated. Train and empower others. Bring in experts or consultants to cover skill or knowledge gaps. Outsource non-core tasks to others with more experience. Avoid micromanagement. Schedule time for yourself between tasks for down-time, to take care of yourself and recharge. You’ll be more productive. Take time to improve your own education, skills and knowledge. It will improve your productivity. Don’t procrastinate! Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Stay hydrated. Exercise. Watch your diet.
Now you know the keys to better time management. Are you doing all of them? Why not? That’s what you need to do be more productive. Good luck with your increased productivity. Let me know if I can help you be productive.