As an old adage says time flies over us, but leaves its shadows behind. There is no way to actually save time, put it away in your pocket and use it later just when you need it. However, there are ways to avoid wasting it. Here is a handy list of ten easy ways to do better time management:
1. USE EVERY 5 MINUTES OF EVERY DAY
The truth is that it's not easy to find a large chunk of time to get a big task accomplished. But if you become aware of and begin using the small chunks of time at every opportunity, you will get more done in a day than you ever dreamed possible. You will be shocked when you discover how much you can do in 5 minutes or less.
2. GROUP SIMILAR ACTIVITIES TOGETHER
After you begin an activity and get into a rhythm, both mentally and physically, you can progress quicker and more efficiently. Grouping all your phone calls, all your paperwork, all your expense reporting, or all your reading into one time block will help you stay focused rather than shifting your attention from one thing to the next all day.
3. CARVE OUT TIME FOR MAINTENANCE EACH WEEK IN YOUR CALENDAR
Maintenance is the most important thing you can do to improve your organization at work. The more you maintain on a regular basis, the less backlog you will experience.
4. WORK ON WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT FIRST
Stop Procrastinating. Establish in your mind and on paper what is your most important goal for the day. It will help you stay focused on that goal and resist distractions.
5. TAKE CONTROL OF MEETINGSWhether you are meeting one-on-one with your boss or in a group, be sure there is an agenda in place and that it is followed. Offer to be the time-keeper if necessary and begin and end meetings on time. Nothing will kill productivity faster than the meeting that goes on forever.
6. SAVE CORRESPONDENCE OR IDEAS AND PRESENT THEM ALL AT ONCEIf you work closely with a co-worker or your assistant, resist getting up several times an hour to talk to that person. Write short notes to yourself on a single page about what you want to discuss, and then have a quick 10-minute meeting before lunch to cover everything on your list.
7. TIME SPENT ON PLANNING IS TIME WELL SPENT
The busier you are, the more time you need to spend planning your life. Establish the habit of taking a few minutes each evening before you quit work to plan the following day. Go over your schedule, your appointments, plan what materials you'll need, and write out your task list for the day. Knowing your agenda in advance will give you a good head start and allow you to hit the ground running in the morning.
8. DELEGATE OR OUTSOURCE NON-CORE TASKS
Focus on your strengths and delegate to others what they can do faster, better, or more efficiently than you can. This frees your time to use your expertise and energy on the work that is most important to you and your company.
9. HANDLE DECISIONS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLEWhether it is a decision about paper, a request for a meeting, or an invitation to a networking event, deciding quickly without putting the decision off for later is always the best idea. When you decide quickly, you get the item out of your head and off your plate. Delaying decisions only adds one more thing to your already full plate and you'll have to handle it at some point anyway, so why not just take care of it sooner rather than later?
10. BUILD FLEXIBILITY INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
Allow more time than you think is necessary for each appointment or task you schedule. Inevitably, you'll run into traffic, the person you're meeting with will be late, or something else will happen that throws you off schedule. If you have built some buffer time into your day, these small crisis won't ruin your schedule.