Time Management – The Good Oil
Wikipedia say “Time management is the is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity”.
Time management for your business can be described metaphorically as the good oil of your business. Oil is the essential life blood that runs through the arteries of cars and mechanical operations and without which, these machines would undoubtedly soon come to a grinding halt and fail.
Applied time management is the “good oil” that prevents the squeaking, creaking and tweaking that frequently arises during our often chaotic day to day existence.
This squeaking, creaking and tweaking is the time we expend and waste each day and is often a result of a lack of planning, not focusing on what’s important , ineffective delegation, interruptions and procrastination.
By applying time management skills you can optimise your effort to ensure that you concentrate as much of your time and energy as possible on the high payoff tasks. This ensures that you achieve the greatest benefit possible with the limited amount of time available to you.
Here are some tips to assist you apply the “good oil” of time management.
1. Set SMART Goals
To start managing time effectively, you need to set goals. When you know where you’re going, you can then figure out what exactly needs to be done, in what order. Without proper goal setting, you’ll fritter your time away on a confusion of conflicting priorities.
People tend to neglect goal setting because it requires time and effort. What they fail to consider is that a little time and effort put in now saves an enormous amount of time, effort and frustration in the future.
A S.M.A.R.T goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. In other words, a goal that is very clear and easily understood. The goal must clearly state what is to be achieved and why, by whom, where and when it is to be achieved. If you find yourself unable to set a SMART goal it is more than likely that your future plans are not clear enough and need to be worked on.
2. Plan your day
Prioritising what needs to be done is especially important. Without it, you may work very hard, but you won’t be achieving the results you desire because what you are working on is not of strategic importance.
To work efficiently you need to work on the most important, highest value tasks. People who over-eat are often described as having ‘eyes bigger than their stomachs’. The time management equivalent is the person who takes on more and more projects that look inviting and exciting, with a total disregard for existing work commitments.
Delegation extends results from what you can do to what you can control. It frees time for more important tasks, allows you to plan more effectively, and helps relieve the pressure of too many jobs, too many deadlines, and too little time. Not only that, but it is one of the most effective ways of developing your staff. Improper delegation, however, is worse than no delegation at all.
Here are some suggestions for effective delegation.
- Don’t delegate what you can eliminate
- Delegate the things you don’t want to delegate
- Delegate but don’t abdicate. Dumping jobs onto others and then disappearing is not delegation, it is organizational suicide
- Delegate the objective, not the procedure
- Don’t always delegate to the most capable people. Delegation is one of the most effective methods of developing others.
4. Handle Interruptions
Some jobs need you to be available for people when they need help – interruption is a natural and necessary part of life. In these cases, do what you sensibly can to minimize it, but make sure you don’t scare people away from interrupting you when they should.
These steps may help;
- Consider removing the visitors chair in your office as this is an invitation for the visitor to stay
- Stand up when visitors come in to your office as this can imply you need to be somewhere else
- Close the door when you need to work uninterrupted
- Ask the visitor what they want and how long do they need as this puts a boundary on the conversation
5. Don’t Procrastinate
Procrastination: the art of convincing yourself that you can put off until tomorrow what you should be doing today.
To deal with procrastination, focus on the result of the task, not on the process. In your mind, think on how good it will be to get it done and what that will mean to you. If you find yourself drifting back into negative feelings about it, stop, and again access how good it will be for you to get the result. Tackle the most unpleasant job at the beginning of your working day and break down large tasks or projects into manageable chunks. Schedule each phase with both a start time and a finish time, and tick chunks off on completion.
Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty that you haven’t started; you come to dread doing the task; and, eventually, everything catches up with you when you fail to complete the work on time.
There is an unwritten law around the concept that work expands to fill the time available. However, if you do complete all your workload, this leaves you time to be proactive and seek new opportunities that could enhance your career and professional standing.
One of the most effective ways of improving your productivity is to practise effective time management skills. When you take the time to plan, priorities eliminate interruptions and stop procrastination, it will make a huge difference in your productivity – and you’ll also be happier, and experience less stress!