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Friday, August 6, 2010
In This Issue
Time Management Techniques - 10 That Actually Work
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Time Management Techniques - 10 That Actually Work
by Tyron Cleine
Here are ten time management techniques that actually work.
I recommend you only attempt to implement one or two new time management techniques at a time. So pick the ones that you think will give you the most value.
1. Working Backwards
The first time management technique I will share with you is working backward. This is a simple technique to ensure you arrive on time. If you have a lunch appointment out of the office at 1:00pm, rather than roughly thinking "It will take about half an hour, so I'll leave at 12:30pm", plan to arrive early by working backwards. Here's an example:
· Arrive 5 minutes early: 12:55
· Find park, park car and walk to meeting point (10min): 12:45
· Travel Time (25 min): 12:20pm
· Walking from desk to car (5 min): 12:15pm
· Leave at 12:15pm.
There is no magic here. This time management technique won't 'create' more time. However it will help you develop a positive time management mindset once you start arriving to your appointments early.
2. Write It Down
Just like when your desk is cluttered and you can't find anything, it's very hard to work efficiently. It's exactly the same with your mind. Attempting to remember everything burns energy.
You can save your energy and clearing the clutter in your mind by writing everything down. Your aim is to have one list off all things that need to be done.
3. Have Laser Focus on Next Actions
You must not multitask when it comes to your important daily tasks. I don't care if you multi-task while you cook dinner, watch TV and do the ironing. These are not important tasks. But, if you're working on a high priority task, you must do it with laser focus.
To avoid overwhelm of a big task list, define your tasks as either been 'next action' or a 'dependant action.' Dependant actions are tasks that cannot be completed until some other previous action is taken.
For example, reading a book is a dependant action on buying the book. Buying the book is the 'next action.' To reduce overwhelm, focus your attention on your next actions only.
4. Make It Fun & Challenging
Productivity and focus happens when engaging in an interesting activity or challenging task. Make boring activities more interesting by setting a time limit or racing a colleague to finish.
5. Low Information Diet
We live in a world full of information and the temptation exists to digest as much information as possible. Information is time consuming and most the information you consumer is either negative or irrelevant to your goals. (Think newspaper, TV, Magazines, Social Blogs.)
Time management is really about making better use of your time. Living on a low-information diet is one way to do this.
A low information diet involves:
* No reading emails before 11:00am. You may quickly scan for urgent emails if required by your role. Use this time instead to achieve one of your most important goals for the day
* Avoid newspapers, magazines or talk-back style radio
* Stop visiting news and non-goal related blogs and websites. No web surfing
* Limit your television viewing to one hour of relaxation viewing only
* Before you digest any information, ask yourself - Will this information help me achieve one of my immediate and important goals?
6. Short Timeframes
If I gave you 24hrs to produce a report on the impact of room temperature on staff productivity, the time constraints would force you to focus and take action. If I gave you a week, you would spend five days considering options and two days preparing the report. If I gave you a month it would sit on the 'back-burner' for two weeks, then you would call a meeting to discuss, send a series of back and forth emails and create the final report in the last two days, am I right?
Parkinson's Law states that "a tasks perceived importance and complexity will increase in relation to the time allotted for its completion." In other term, the longer you allow for a task to be completed, the more complex and important that task is perceived.
The solution is simple. Shorten time frames to reduce the perception of complexity of tasks and force you to take action.
7. Eliminate Distractions
The main time consuming distractions are:
· Phone Calls - Place all telephones on mute, including your mobile phone. An unrelated phone call or text message will break your focus. Phone calls from customers often lead to small errands.
· Email - Mute or disable whatever 'you have mail' signal you use. Also, set the frequency of automatic checking to only check email every few hours or do it manually.
· Co-Worker Distractions - Just because you have decided to become more efficient, doesn't mean your co-worker will too. Train distracters to know when you are focused, so they come back at a more appropriate time. Do this by wearing headphones or a telephone headset (even with no music or call on the line).
8. Change Your Self-Beliefs
If you tell yourself you're always late - you will always be late. If you say, I only work well under pressure - then that will be true, or if you tell people, I'm easily distracted - you will be.
Take ownerships for the unconscious messages you are giving yourself every day. Make a conscious decision today to change your language around your ability to manage time.
9. Take Responsibility
To master your management of time you must take 100% responsibility for your results. If you don't you are giving away your power to create change. If you accept that an external force is shaping your future, you lose your control to change it.
10. Understand Energy
· Food Is Energy - While your brain only makes up 3 per cent of your body's weight, it uses 20 percent of the energy. Starting thinking of eating at providing energy for your brain, rather than food for your stomach. The food you chose to eat will directly impact your level of energy and ability to maintain focus.
* Drink Plenty of Water - Up to 60 percent of the human body is water and your brain is composed of 70 percent water. It is no coincidence that the first task in the morning ritual is to drink ½ litre of water. You must also this up through the day. While there is some debate about the recommended daily intake, approximately 2 litres per day appears to be the commonly recommended intake for an adult, adjusted for weather conditions and physical activity. I also highly recommend filter water, as the chlorine in tap water is not a required component of any diet.
* Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night - Sleep is an important form of recovery for your body and mind. A lack of sleep impacts your strength, cardiovascular capacity and overall level of energy for the day. If you are even slightly sleep deprived, your level of performance will be dramatically affected.
* Prepare For The 3:00pm Slump - Plan recovery periods into your working day - Your energy levels will naturally rise and fall during your workday. Around 3.00 to 4.00p.m, you will reach the lowest phase of your body's natural daily rhythms. This is the point where you'll feel the highest level of fatigue. It is important in these times to avoid quick fixes like chocolate and caffeine, which will give you a short peak and then you will crash.
* Exercise Create More Energy - While on the surface this concept appears backward, contrary to popular belief exercising doesn't make you tired, it actually creates energy in your body. This happens on the cellular level, with tiny organs called mitochondria, which are like tiny power plants located in our cells. The number of mitochondria you have, and therefore your ability to produce energy, is affected by your daily activity.
About the author:
If you wish to learn more about improving your time management skills, you can download a FREE copy of my book, The 7 Steps to Personal Productivity. Tyron Cleine is a Productivity & Efficiency Strategist, who works with individuals, small businesses and corporations to increase productivity and improve time management skills.
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