“I love the sound that deadlines make as they go whooshing past.”
If you can cure the procrastination problem that I talked about in an earlier post, you’ll free up a considerable chunk of time every day, so you’ll be much more likely to hit your deadlines. But what if you have a ‘to do’ list with 15 things to get done by the end of the day? There’s no-one to delegate stuff to, so how can you get everything done?
Tip 1. Start by doing two or three small tasks that really are easy to complete. It might be something as simple as paying a bill or making a quick phone call.
Tip 2. The next thing to do is look at your list (you have made a list, haven’t you?) and prioritise your activities. Are there any items on your list for today that you could get away with doing tomorrow, or even later in the week? Not everything is screamingly urgent so take all the non-urgent actions off your ‘to do’ list for today.
Tip 3. Next, have a look at the six action points you absolutely have to get done today. Stick it near your computer. Focus on those and start working on the most urgent one first.
Tip 4. Avoid distractions. Turn off your social media and your web browser. It’s scary how much time can tick by when you’re checking out YouTube, Twitter and the rest.
Tip 5. Get in the habit of checking emails first thing in the morning, then at lunchtime and then once later in the afternoon. If you read every email as it comes in and respond to it, your available time will soon ebb away.
Tip 6. Don’t try and multitask. Do one task at a time and, once you’ve started on something, complete it before you go on to the next task. Otherwise, you risk wasting time ‘warming up’ to the task each time you start at it anew.
Tip 7. If you know friends are likely to call you for a chat, turn your phone to voice mail. You can call them back when you’ve put your feet up for the evening.
Tip 8. Use your time effectively by doing the tasks that require maximum brain capacity at the time of day when you know you function at your best. And plan break times at points in the day when you know you are less effective.
Tip 9. Try not to get stressed at the thought of all the things you’ve still got to do. Just focus on the current task in hand. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to get finished, I follow the ‘elephant technique’. You can’t eat an elephant all at once but you can if you eat it one bite at a time.
Tip 10. And, finally, give yourself little rewards as you work your way through your list of tasks.
What are your top time management tips?