There are 5 main pressures that derail people. Time, or lack of it, is a big one. (The others are relationships, money, health issues, and expectations).
Time is fixed — there are only so many hours in a day. Given this fact, the only thing that can change is you, or what’s on your plate.
People who are skilled at managing time use it effectively and efficiently. They also value their time, concentrate their efforts on more important priorities, get more done in less time than others, and can attend a wider range of activities.
People who are unskilled at managing time waste it. They flit from activity to activity with little rhyme or reason, don’t set priorities, can’t say no, are easily distracted, don’t follow a plan or method, and don’t control time-wasters.
If the unskilled definition sounds more like you, don’t lose hope. Read on.
Value your time.
Please don’t skip over this step. Few people have proper boundaries that demonstrate they value their time. Calculate how much the hours and minutes of your time are worth by using your gross salary, overhead, and benefits. Then ask yourself, is what I’m about to do worth $121 dollars of my time? Look at your calendar to see where your biggest time wasters are coming from and try to reduce it by 50%.
- Are you participating in meetings where you don’t need to be there
- Batch activities together where possible
- Use your most productive and alert time of day for the toughest projects
- Make a list of points to make before you place a call to stay on task
Give yourself the needed margin by delegating away some tasks. Delegation provides stretch opportunities for others, creates bench strength for your team, and frees you to focus on higher priorities. Others often feel more empowered when they are given stretch assignments.
Keep it brief.
Do you value other people’s time? Are you guilty of talking beyond what is necessary when meeting with co-workers? Do you have those around you that don’t respect your time? Learn to say: “I have to get back to my next deliverable. Can we pick this up another time?”
You are always going to be asked to do more than you’re able. Always. The best time saver is learning to constructively say no. An effective technique when someone asks you to take on a task is to ask which of the other things they delegated can be canceled or delayed as a result of the new priority. This allows you to say yes, but you’re also saying no to something of the requester’s choice. They may even delegate to someone else with more capacity.
It sounds counter-intuitive to add planning to your plate and end up with more time, but it works. Upfront planning of priorities frees up more time down the road than just arbitrarily tackling everything you can.
Make time for yourself.
There’s a lot of recent research that reveals people who work more than 50 hours a week are actually less productive. Take time to renew. It helps you refocus so that you can be at your best. Stephen Covey calls this Sharpening the Saw.
People tend to focus on work they like and end up under the gun doing unsavory tasks under pressure. Allocate your time evenly toward desirable, as well as undesirable, tasks.
Create goals, and separate them by importance/priority:
- Nice to have
- If there is time left over
- Not central to what I am trying to achieve
You can also create time goals. For example, spending one hour per day on an important task.
Learn from others.
Do you know someone who seems to juggle everything flawlessly? Find out their “secret sauce” to time management and apply the principles to your own life.
Time is too precious to waste. Take control today and watch your life change for the better.
This post was written by Kristin Sherry. Kristin is a member of the Crossroads Career Board of Directors. She is the best selling author of YouMap & Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? She joined our board in 2019 and lives with her husband and 4 kids in North Carolina.