Time-management is less about controlling the ephemeral fourth dimension and more about controlling yourself. It means getting organised and sticking to your game plan. Here are 10 things you can do to make the most of your waking hours.
1. Maintain a to-do list
This means more than just writing down all the things you need to do, but prioritising them in order of urgency. Include an estimated time for each task and a deadline date – which should be realistic. An important step in accomplishing all the dos on your list is to keep it up to date.
2. Set email time
Set aside time each day to address all your emails and then ignore any that come in after that time. If you don't have time to take action on a mail (reply to it, forward it to a colleague or delete it), then you shouldn't be reading it.
3. Organise your space
This means virtual and real-time. Make sure your desk and filing system (whether it be a cabinet or drawer) is organised to make it easy to both find and file information. Your computer filing system should be organised too. This saves you wasting time looking for things. Have an "In" basket on your desk and inform everyone that's where letters, documents and work in progress should go.
4. Close your door
While an open-door policy for your staff is great management, you can't help anyone if you don't have time for them. Occasionally close your door (if you have one) to get work done. If a coworker comes to your desk, set a time to chat instead of indulging in the middle of work.
5. Collaborate and delegate
Working in teams can slow everyone down. You expect something on time – and so do your colleagues. Make sure you have set aside enough time to do your bit for the team, including time for snags and unpredictable mishaps. Don't waste time following up on work you have reassigned to someone else.
6. Cancel meetings
If a meeting is routine and not absolutely necessary, then cancel it. If it is necessary, draw up an agenda and stick to it (as well as the time allotted for it). If you are not required for the duration of the meeting, ask your employer in private if it's possible to be excused when you're no longer needed.
7. Run more than one project
Staying busy with numerous projects is actually productive. Being busy keeps you sharp and having more than one project on the go enables you to change pace, thoughts and take a break from other projects while still getting work done.
8. Stop procrastinating
There will always be certain tasks or aspects of your job you hate, but these need to be done. Instead of postponing the boring or unpleasant tasks, make sure a pleasant task follows an unpleasant one.
9. Say no
While becoming the next member of your company's golf committee could be fun, it adds no value to the company. Make sure you make the best use of your time and skills by saying "no" to unnecessary projects. If it doesn't advance your career, it's a waste of time.
10. Reward yourself
Positive reinforcement doesn't only work on dogs. Schedule time for yourself and rewarding activities to do in this time. It can be anything from taking a coffee break after reading a report to planning a vacation after a project.