14 Steps to Managing Your Time

All of us have 168 hours a week. Of course, with some of that time, we need to eat and sleep and take care of other personal business. In this article, I would like to look at 14 steps to managing your time for your business.
 
Diary Planning
 
A diary either on paper or electronic can help you to effectively manage your time. Your diary can be much more than a way to record your appointments. I personally like to use a Google Calendar. This allows me to use the calendar to also add tasks (or to do list) and set reminders. The reminders and tasks then appear on the calendar. You are then able to check them off when completed.
This allows you to add phone calls and other tasks that you have to complete which may or may not be time specific. There will be things that you need to do and in your diary, I suggest that you block out time for the these and set a reminder so that you will be notified when you have to do them. (See also Concentrate on one task).
Your diary can be one of the best ways that you can plan and with Google Calendar having a task system will help you and be your To Do List (please read the section To Do List to see how you can make this system work for you)
 
To Do List
 
A to do list is vital if you are going to manage your time wisely. I find that during the day as things arise that can’t be dealt with straight away I add them to my to do list. At the end of the day review your list and then prioritise the next day’s task.
A top tip that worked well for me is to take the task that you dislike the most and do that at the beginning of the day. If you don’t, you will keep looking at it and subconsciously it will affect what you do. It’s quite likely that you will slow down in order not to get to the task, waste time on non-essential things and feel a little miserable in the process. Therefore number your tasks in order of importance with the least liked at or very near to the top if there really is something else that has to be done first.
Any tasks that are not important today can be rolled over but look closely now to see if they will become a priority tomorrow when you prepare your list. If a task can only be partially completed do make sure that you keep it on your to do list for the future.
 
Email management
 
We all get hundreds of emails and managing them can be a problem. Please don’t allow email to take over your life. It’s best to have several email addresses. Have a private one which you never use for business and only check this once a day outside of business time. Other email addresses can be such as Sales@; Info: Enquiries@ Newsletters@  and use this to subscribe to newsletters or other things which are not going to be important. Make sure that if you no longer read newsletters use the unsubscribe button.
I recommend that you use Gmail to manage your email accounts. Gmail has a very good spam filter and frees you up from much of the pure junk that is emailed. You can also segment your email into sections to make managing email much simpler and save time. Urgent emails can then be seen more easily. Many people set aside specific times of the day to check their email rather than react to each one as it comes arrives in your inbox. Turn off your email notifications so that you are not disturbed or tempted to see each email as it arrives.
 
Delegate
 
Whenever you can, delegate tasks to others. Train and trust your staff to handle tasks that will free you up to concentrate on your core work. If don’t employ people that you could delegate to, you should look to outsource to those that can assist you.
 
Learn to say “No”
 
There are many demands on our time and even the most caring and generous of us will have to learn to know when to say “no”. Of course, you also need to know how to say no in a way that will not cause any undue upset or offence.
 
Get enough sleep
 
There are those people that think sleeping is a waste of time! The truth is we need a reasonable amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation will actually slow you down and reduce your productivity and creativity and you will achieve less in more time if you are tired. You want to achieve more in less time!
 
Concentrate on one task
 
Despite what is often said about multitasking you can really only concentrate on one task at a time. That’s why it’s stupid to text and drive (and use other phone functions). Set aside time to concentrate on one task at a time and you will complete it quicker and more accurately and produce better results.
 
Avoid distractions
 
If you can, stop the things that can interrupt and are not essential. If you’re working on a computer those pop-up messages for email, Twitter and Facebook are a menace. Turn them off because the act of looking at them will focus your mind on their message and probably cause you to click on them to see more. Some people like to work with background noise such as a radio on. However again this can cause you to focus on things being said rather than your work.
 
Schedule time to a complete a task
 
You are more likely to get something done and on time if you set aside a set time to do it. Use your diary to do this.
 
Assign break time
 
Your brain and body need a rest! Allow break times so that you can be refreshed. The practice of working at a desk and eating might seem efficient but ultimately it is bad for your health. Get up, take some exercise and fresh air. You will be more relaxed and have more energy to work.
 
Keep it simple
 
With most things, there is a simple way and a complicated one. Don’t over complicate your life.
 
Use management systems that work for you 
 
There are many systems that you can use. It is easy to end up becoming a slave to the system rather than it being a tool for your business. Ask yourself, “What do I actually need to record?” Collating loads of data just because a system asks you too can be a serious waste of time.
 
Work mobile when you can
 
If you’re travelling by train or sat in a waiting area can you use that time to make phone calls, write an email, or some other task that can be done away from your office? Plan to use those moments productively but not whilst you are driving! Get a chauffeur if you want to work in the car.
 
Enjoy what you do
 
If you hate what you do then you will find it incredibly difficult to manage your time beneficially. Change your career as soon as you can or learn to love your job. Strangely enough, many people that hate their jobs have a job that is OK and it’s their viewpoint that needs changing. Have a good think about the positive aspects of your work and write them down. Do they outweigh the negatives? You will be surprised how a change of viewpoint and appreciation for what you have can make your work so much better.
 
I hope that you have found these 14 tips for managing your time helpful. I would like to invite your comments and experiences in time management so please use the box below to leave a comment.
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