Time Management Tips And Tricks
How to manage your time more effectively.
Time management solutions
Not enough hours in the day? Read our practical pointers for better time management.
In today's world, it is all too easy to feel that there just aren't enough hours in the day. If this sounds familiar, the chances are you could use your time more effectively1. Here are some tips to put you on the right track, both at work and at home:
- Plan, plan, plan! Setting goals and planning ahead are the fundamentals of time management. Be realistic about the goals you set yourself and leave a bit of room for unexpected interruptions or crises.
- Prioritize your tasks and activities. What needs doing immediately? What is moderately important? And what would be nice to do if you had time? A daily or weekly "to do" list with high-priority tasks marked is a common and useful trick.
- Create a work-friendly environment. Clear away clutter and file away any material that is not relevant to your current task, so that you can concentrate on one thing at a time.
- Get the noise level right - do you like a background buzz or need to work somewhere quiet? Try to find a work station with the right noise level for you.
- Ask if it is possible to swap your lunch hour with someone else. Sometimes a change of routine can do wonders.
- Monitor your progress and be sure to warn people if you're running late or think you could be late. They will appreciate it.
- Nearly all of us wind up working late or taking work home sometimes, but if you find yourself doing it over and over again, it may be time to talk to someone, such as your manager.
- Set appointments that you can control and manage.
- Take advantage of speedy new technologies (within limits - you do not want to spend your day without speaking to anyone).
- Send short messages by e-mail instead of writing letters or making phone calls.
- Delegate! Start with the routine jobs that you know someone else can do, then realize that in the long term, it might be a good idea to show someone the ropes for a more skilled task. People to whom you delegate will probably be grateful for the chance to learn something new, and you'll get some help at busy times.
- Be efficient during your most productive time of the day.
- Don't just plan for work. What about some spare time? Look at your calendar and underline your free time with a strong message that you are not going to commit yourself to anything except relaxing. Maybe it's time with family, friends, exercise, or hobbies? Whatever you do, never relegate these people and activities to "whenever I finish work"2.
At home- Keep a calendar near the phone or in the kitchen for all of the family. Schedule your leisure time on this calendar - and stick to it.
- Use family or group time to decide on shopping lists, and ideas for menus and vacations. It cuts down on your planning time and gets everyone involved.
- Carefully file any important documentation (bills, pay slips, etc.) so that, when needed, you don't have to frantically look for them.
- Learn to say "no" to your kids and/or other people living under your roof when you need time for yourself.
- Prepare the things you'll need for a meeting or appointment the night before: clothes, paperwork, etc.
- Avoid watching too much television; use the spare time for yourself, family and friends.
- If possible, delegate some household chores.
- Greener M. The Which? Guide to Managing Stress. Which? Consumer Guides. Essential Advice on Bolstering your Own Stress Defenses. Penguin 1996.
- Eliot R and Breo D. Is It Worth Dying For? How to Make Stress Work for You, Not Against You. Bantam Books 1989.