Creating a Truly Productive Day Using Basic Time Management Techniques
So you don’t have time to attend a Time Management seminar, then here are four ideas to help you create a more productive day. First, the meaningful to such a day is to create more discretionary time and use it more wisely. Second, remember you are not paid for work, you are paid for results. Third, you need to control your day instead of it controlling you. The number one idea is to begin by analyzing your typical day. To do this you need to do a simple Time Log. This is done by taking an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and numbering each line in fifteen minute increments starting with the time you arrive at work. (observe; do not start when you are supposed to be there but when you truly arrive.) Then, throughout the day, record your activities. You need to do this for two weeks. Then, look for time wasters and ways to create more discretionary time.
There are two kinds of time; discretionary – meaning you have a choice of how to use it, and non-discretionary – that which is taken up by job roles, meetings, and appointment. Your time log may surprise you as to how much discretionary time you have each day. To make a truly productive day, you need to use this time wisely. Remember this about your job, you are given more than you can accomplish – this is called job security. The idea is to determine what will give you the best results and then delegate the rest.
The number one time on your Time Log will, in all probability, be interruptions. These must be deleted or reduced. To be more productive you first need to determine just who is interrupting you and then why they keep showing up. Once you have identified the reason, correct it, remember to be vigilant with time but kind to people.. Consider that you may be part of the problem, by socializing and consequently extending the interruption. In order to become more effective, don’t socialize when you are busy, save it for later.
There are two ways to help you stay focused; first a observe on your desk saying, “What is the best use of my time right now,” and second have your “to do list” in plain sight. Many people create to do lists but they are often just reminders of what has to be done and consequently become just frustrations. when not everything gets done. If this is your experience, then you are letting events control your day instead of you controlling them. What needs to happen is for you to priotrize your to do list and think about which items need to get done in order to give you the best results. You should develop the habit of doing the most important things first and working down the list in order of priority. You have probably heard of the Praeto rule or 80/20 rule; specifically that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your activities. It follows then that by concentrating on those 20 percent items you will gain more results. A reminder here is not to fool yourself to thinking that doing the easy things first you will have more time for the larger more important items. You will most always run out of time and wind up working late or taking work home. These so called easy items are chief targets for delegation.
Here is a tip for creating more discretionary time for yourself; schedule a one hour meeting with yourself every day. Put this on your calendar and follow it every day. Your “time log” will give you the best opportunity when to do this. Then, close your door, put “crime scene tape” across your cubicle, or go to a conference room. Be sure to have someone take your calls and tell them where you are in case of an emergency. In your private meeting, work first on your number one priority and don’t leave it til it is done and then move on to the next one. (A tip here: if you schedule your meeting and for some reason you get a higher priority, then reschedule it for later.) The chances are you will never get everything done, but you will be working on the most important items and this will give you the results you want. This can rule to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which is usually missing from most people who do not follow good time management practices.
One final observe: when you start controlling your day, plan on a time to leave. You will be amazed that things will be done and you can truly put balance in your life. That truly is a fleeting thing for most people.