Time Management – Tips and Apps
Our days are always too short as we try to do too much every single day. We are kept busy, but at the end of the day, wonder what we have actually achieved. The important element in our day is the focus and energy we put in to each task. There is no shortage of tasks to do or distractions to take you off course, so it is vital to
make something a priority and focus on it until it gets done. Have a To Do List written from the day before or do it first thing. Doing it the night before will allow you sleep
better. Ideally, do it before you leave the office in the evening. Have a big task as your daily focus and the rest can take a back seat whilst you zone in on the task at hand.
In the morning, before you start on your One Thing, check your email and anything that can be responded to in 60 seconds, just do it. Check for any URGENT items that need your attention and let the others wait, until you are ready. Any items that need to be passed on or delegated should be done at this point so that others can get their tasks done too. You do not want to be a bottle neck. Get this process or practice done every day until it is habit, a part of the way your day works.
“Time management 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.” Wikipedia “Efficiency is doing things right, while effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Time chunking – manage your time in slots
60 Seconds – In the morning, before you start on your One Thing, check your email and anything that can be read in 60 seconds and responded to in 60 seconds, just do it. Check for any URGENT items that need your attention and may become your one thing, to be done immediately. Let the others wait, until you are ready. Any items that need to be passed on or delegated should be done at this point, so that others can get their tasks done too. You do not want to be a bottle neck. Get this process or practice done every day until it is habit, a part of the way your day works. Clear the desk of the small things and have a priority list of the bigger items, then take them one at a time. Circumstances may dictate that you get stopped on something because you need another persons input, so move to the next item on the list.
60 Minutes – Even for your ‘One Thing’, give it a time chunk, a limit, say one hour and allow yourself that 60 minutes to focus, to get in to a state of flow, to ignore phone, eMail, Skype, Whatsapp or any other intrusion. These things can all wait and they all record messages, so you can attend to them as a batch for an hour when you are ready. You do not have to be available every minute of every day, but people generally feel the need to answer the phone every time it rings. I wear my earbuds as I work, because it dissuades people from just chatting to me. For anyone who knows me I do actually listen to podcasts when I have the earbuds in – I am not ignoring you.
Half Days – Mornings are generally the most productive time for people, the time when you can concentrate best, the time when you can get in to that state of flow where you are creative and can get things done. Use your best time of day to do your best work. Avoid trying to force yourself, to do the creative stuff when you are tired or hungry. Talking about hungry, keep some fruit and water in your office at all times, as hunger and dehydration just become distractions. Many people say that they work better at night and that may be true for some people, but after a long day it can be hard to be sharp, so do test that theory. Plus you might want to save the evenings for family or just resting. Sleep is vital and the theory that you only need 4 hours is rubbish. You need what you need, that’s it. Being in bed before midnight is important, as is getting up at the same time every day – your clock gets accustomed to the routine, which makes your day work better. Talk to a nutritionist and get a meal plan, that includes loads of live food, fruit, vegetables, protein etc and get a diet that suits you personally.
People – Make time to make contact with people, to arrange appointments and just connect. There are times when this should be avoided such as Monday morning, Friday afternoon, weekends, lunch time, after 5 pm – this reduces the best options coinsiderably, so add these time slots to your calendar and use them for connecting. For many of us connecting well with people is usually the most important part of our job. The unsuitable times should be good for your other tasks. Travel time and waiting time can be used to listen to other people, speakers via podcasts, so get the buds back in your ear and listen to a Ted Talk or a speaker from your area of business. Search iTunes for your category and find some great content for you.
Do NOT Disturb – If you need one, get one and use it, so that you can do your job well, get in to the big task without distraction and get in to the state of flow, required to get the task done well. Remember the 80:20 rule, that says 20% of what you do will produce 80% of what you produce, so plan to be productive for that 20% of your time. Plan for blocks of free time to be available to take meetings, to be able to give yourself time to think and plan. For many of us we need to have 50% of your time put aside for this. We need time to plan how to approach a meeting and time to assess how it went, to follow up on it and to write the report or write up the tasks for everyoine involved in the project.
Time management Apps – FREE or low cost
Momentum – A free app or extension for Chrome which has a great To Do List and a prompt to remind you what is the One Thing or focus for your day. It works well and we recommend it highly. As usual, you do need to get in to the habit of using it. We explain it in detail HERE.
Remember the Milk – A simple way to remember your tasks, which integrates with Evernote, if this is your Digital Notebook. We explain Evernote HERE
Evernote – Digital Notebook. We explain Evernote HERE
Dropbox – Digital Storeroom for all your files, photos, documents and stuff. Plus you can share acces to specific files or folders. Avoids the need to send or receive large files by email.
Freshbooks – Invoicing in the Cloud, a simple to use invoicing system.
We get in to business ourselves because of Autonomy, Mastery or Purpose, but regardless which reasons we do need to assume total responsibility, so Time Management is crucial if you are to lead and also crucial if you are to perform or be productive, especially as part of a team. People will want to depend on you, because you get things done. As a leader or business owner, you need to show people the way on this, in order to get the best from your team, their time and their focus.
Time Management Matrix
How do you manage your daily tasks? Do you ever consider the Time Management Matrix and how to define your various tasks ? What is Important and what is Urgent. Stephen R. Covey put this matrix together and it makes so much sense. But it needs considering on a regular basis and most people will not give it the time it needs. Having said that any consideration, whether weekly or monthly is good.
1. URGENT & IMPORTANT – Time consuming, demanding – Crisis activity, emergencies, last minute tweaks to project preparation, deadlines, Do Now – PRESSURE. The Quadrant of Necessity – MANAGE
2. NOT URGENT, BUT IMPORTANT – Building Relationships – Planning, Tweaking processes, Education, Empowerment, Exercise & Recreation, Opportunity, Decide when to do – Create time in your schedule for LIVING. The Quadrant of Quality – FOCUS
3. URGENT, BUT NOT IMPORTANT – Mail, Bills, Chats, Meetings, Delegate. The Quadrant of Deception – AVOID
4. NOT URGENT, AND NOT IMPORTANT – Junk mail, distraction, trivia, small stuff, time wasting, escapism, Dump – TIME WASTING. Quadrant of Waste – AVOID
People, invariably, get dragged in to Quadrant 1 and 3, when 2 is where they really need to focus. It is not easy to manage and you do have to do the Important stuff first. By focusing on 2 it will eventually reduce the items in 1, 3 and 4. Try creating a sheet with the 4 quadrants and fill them with your To Do list items. Do one for a week or even one for every day or both. It becomes a Plan, broken up in to sections, allowing you focus and prioritise on tasks.
Many thanks for the feedback and by all means send us your tips and advice on this or any other subject.