How to manage time is one of the most common challenges we hear when working with teams, not just leaders. And while there is usually some deeper beliefs or behaviours that need addressing, having regular time management practices can help. Which of these disciplines will work best, depends on your individual strengths and working style. Give some a try and see what works for you.
1. Make a physical to-do list at the beginning of each day and cross off each item as it is completed. Review your list at the start of each day.
2. Number the tasks on your to-do list in order of importance. That way, when each task is complete, you don’t need to think about what you will focus on next. Take away the choice and temptation to wander!
3. Choose three tasks each day that you are committed to completing. If you get side-tracked, you know which tasks you need to come back to. Plan a reward for if/when you complete them all that day.
4. At the beginning of each day, ask yourself ‘What would success look like today?’ Once you are clear on what success looks like, it’s easier to stay focussed on the tasks that will bring the biggest impact.
5. Write your tasks for the day/week/month on post it notes and plot them on a board under headings: To Start, In Progress, To Follow Up, Completed. This is a simple, visual way to keep track of progress.
6. Start each day by giving yourself some quick wins to gather momentum. Complete 3-4 tasks that will take 10 minutes or less, then move on to things that require more focus.
7. Each time you complete a task/activity that has required intense focus, take a break, then focus on 2-3 small tasks before intensely focussing again.
8. Turn off email notifications and only check in each time you have completed a task. When checking emails, action or respond immediately to any that will take 10 minutes or less to complete.
9. Set boundaries around your time, so that you are focussing on the most important tasks when your energy is high e.g. No meetings before 3pm.
10. When you catch yourself procrastinating, practice asking, ‘What is the best use of my time right now?’ The answer might be to take a break OR simply commit to starting something for 10 minutes, then stop. Make the wise decision, not the easy one.
11. Tasks often expand to the time you have available. Practice setting time limits for how long you will spend on a specific task or activity. If the task is not completed in that time, consciously decide how much longer you are prepared to invest, then stick to it.
What time management techniques work for you?