Everyone, especially minority business owners, knows that time is money, yet too few people act like it is. To be successful I maintain that Time Management must be a critical component of your skills repertoire. Whether you are running your own business, or you are a key executive or manager - to get ahead you must accomplish as much as possible in the time you allocate to work. I consult with many different types of businesses and it is amazing how many lives of I see out of balance because of time constraints. Common complaints I hear include:
1. I just have too many things to do in the day.
2. I get interrupted so much during the day I spend evenings and weekends working just to keep up.
3. I'm not spending enough time with my wife/husband/children.
Worrying about time pressures contributes to your stress level, can lead to health problems and prevents you from operating at maximum efficiency.
If you and your managers had an extra hour each day to focus on their high-priority tasks, think how much more effective they could be.
Here are 10 proven techniques to get more done:
1) Set goals. In work and life, having a set of goals to work toward gives us a sense of direction. As an owner or a high achieving executive this should be the easy step - you are already used to setting goals. Without clear goals, it is difficult to move to Step 2 ...
2) Use a prioritized "To Do" list. Make a list of the things that need to be done each day and then categorize them in groups of A, B, C,. and D task with A being the most critical and D being the least. Focus on the tasks in priority order. The best time to make the list is at the end of the previous day. If that tactic works for you move on to step 3.
Or an additional step I strongly recommend is to draw a four cell chart. Label the horizontal axis - Important, the vertical axis - Urgent. Now label the lower left corner Minus and the upper right corner Plus. You now have a four quadrant chart that will help you classify your tasks according to how much (Plus/Minus)they are both urgent and important.
Classify your tasks according to how important and urgent they are. Many of the tasks you must handle are one or the other but not both. Think of urgent tasks as those that have a time clock against them. Important tasks are those that will help further the achievement of your goals. Be brutally honest with yourself and you will identify the sub-group of tasks that are both urgent and important. Use the chart to list those urgent and important items in quadrant 1. Depending on the nature of the other tasks, your business and your personality, you can argue whether you should tackle quadrant 2 or 3. What is clear is that you should address quadrant 1 first and 4 last.
3) Some people like to tackle the unpleasant, but important tasks done first. By getting them done first, you remove a burden from your shoulders, which improves your attitude and makes the rest of the day more productive.
4) Delegate. Save your expertise and time for where it can be used most effectively.
5) Don't waste travel time. If you spend a lot of time being transported somewhere, take along a cell phone (hands free for the car), laptop computer (for air travel), or tape recorder for so you can fully utilize this otherwise wasted time. Consolidate trips to minimize travel.
6) Manage e-mail. Set aside specific times for dealing with e-mail and be quick to delete the unimportant stuff. Not every e-mail requires a response.
7) Watch out for the Web. The Internet is a source of endless distractions. Stay focused, get the information you need, and get off.
8) Learn to say "no". Enough said.
9) Manage interruptions. Interruptions really hurt productivity. Set aside certain times when you can work without interruption (i.e., no phone calls, employee visits).
10) Don't be a perfectionist. It may take two or three times longer to do something to perfection as opposed to doing it well. Most tasks simply don't require perfection.
Improving your time management is a long-term undertaking. However, many strategies implemented today will pay off tomorrow!