Three strategies for Time Management – because you can’t manage time, only yourself.
- Plan your week & day: Every Friday, set aside 15 minutes to plan the week ahead, taking into consideration long term objectives for those things that will help keep your business moving forward, outside the routine, immediate role that we do every day. This could be keeping in touch with existing clients you haven’t spoken to for a while, or new business development activities.
All too often we get caught up in the everyday and don’t think about those strategies we need to put in place to keep our business running long term, so that after immediate goals are fulfilled, we’re not back to square one, at the beginning of the pipeline. In that 15 minutes planning for the week ahead, review the week just past, when were you most productive, when were you distracted, and think of how to change or build on this in the week to come. Reset and restart on Monday. Doing this regularly will make it become a habit; it takes 21 days to break a bad habit.
Part of your daily plan should be set times for reading and responding to emails, don’t let them pepper your day with distractions from your core responsibilities. Also, don’t multi-task – do one task at a time to ensure completeness. The rest of the day will be filled with core activities, taking time to assess how your day is going after lunch to adjust accordingly. Lists are very useful too, helps with prioritising important activities. If you don’t control your time, you’ll be pulled in many different directions.
- Allen’s Input Processing Technique is a Time Management tool designed to help you maintain productivity and focus whilst other distractions come across your path. Allen’s technique dictates that you look at interruptions and decide if it is important enough to act on and if not, if it’s unnecessary, to get rid of it, or file as appropriate. He views things that are quick to do as Do It Now, but if it takes longer, to Defer it, either scheduling it or adding it on to the to-do list. Taking this further, the 4 Ds of Time Management state you can either Do It Now / Defer It / Dump It / Delegate It. It is all about prioritising a set of tasks, controlling your time and not getting distracted by non-important tasks.
- Another time management strategy is about protecting your planned time for productivity, and as briefly mentioned earlier, Turning Off Email. It’s about re-training yourself to remain true to your goal, and not getting distracted by that incoming ping of an email which will inevitably distract you from your core tasks & making money. Time Management is about managing your environment and not letting your environment manage you. If you decide when to read your emails, say once an hour, then you have taken control of when to answer an email, not giving the power to the sender. I have been analyzing my own habits and have implemented this significant change in my daily routine (it is quite hard to turn them off again though, so this is a work in progress!). It has been my habit for 14 years in recruitment to react straight away to emails, but it really does help with managing my time more effectively.