Time Management

As we enter the last month of the year, the clock seems to speed up. It seems as though we have countless last-minute tasks and projects to finalise and the urge to wrap up the year often sends us mere mortals over the edge.

I so often hear people say that they need to manage their time better! Well here is the reality – you cannot manage time. We all get exactly the same amount of time every day.

You can however manage what you do with the time you are given.

To get a better handle on what we do with our time, lets look at the major time thieves that we so graciously allow into our daily lives.

Where did the time go?

To better manage your time utilization, you need to keep track of what you did with the time. For a day or two you may want to record what you did for every working half hour of your day. This will clearly indicate where the time went.

In a growing business, we are often the self-appointed Jack-of-all-trades. Sadly, this also leaves us as the master of none. Determine the skill level required for the various tasks that consumed your time and if the task does not require your specific skill level, delegate it.

Decide what is important and what is urgent. Attend to what is important before it becomes urgent. Dealing with urgent matters on tight time lines causes unnecessary stress and will undoubtedly cause you to take your eye off the ball when it comes to running your business.

And what about those pesky distractions?

Despite what we may wish to believe, multitasking is not a key to productivity. Research has shown that every time we switch tasks we are distracted from our task at hand, and it takes us approximately 25 minutes to reach the same level of focus again.

Distractions such as cell phones alerts and email pop-ups, rob us of a huge amount of time.  Cancel email pop-ups and close your mailbox when possible. Predetermine times that allow you to review and attend to emails. Don’t let the agendas and urgency of others rob you of your own productivity. When you have to concentrate on a specific task on hand, turn your phone to silent. And for sanity’s sake, turn off group chat notifications.

If you are continuously interrupted at the office, determine the type of interruptions, implement training, systems and procedures where necessary. Surely you cannot be the only one in the operation that knows how to change the toner in the printer.

So, whilst managing what we do with our time may seem to be as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; remember we are the master of our own destinies. Say no, delegate, diarise time-slots for specific tasks, implement training, systems and procedure. And more than once in a while, stop to smell the flowers.