Navigating Through Your Days—Tips For Time Management

We all begin our days with the best of intentions to be as productive as possible, but we frequently find ourselves “sidetracked” by the day-to-day unforeseen circumstances that tug us in different directions. Here are some tips to help you navigate around day-to-day time “hazards.”

  • Set aside 15 minutes to a half hour at the end of each day to review what you’ve accomplished and to make a to-do list for the next day. Prioritize! Either list the tasks in order of importance or assign a letter to each task with “A” being urgent, “B,” important, and “C,” of less importance. The next day, pull out your list and take care of your priority tasks first.
  • Some times it’s good to get “lost,” because you can’t be found and interrupted. If possible, schedule blocks of time out of the office to complete important projects. Work at your library, your home office, or a local coffee shop. Or, set a time to close your office door and let employees know that time is sacred.
  • Coming and going from the office to run errands can be a timewaster. Group errands to the post office, store, and bank to make the best use of your time, or, if possible, delegate them to an employee.
  • Take a break or two. Take time to breathe, relax, or stretch. Don’t skip the morning coffee break. If you work on a computer for long stretches of time, be sure to stand up and stretch your arms and legs.
  • Are you in control of your paperwork, or is controlling you? If you have difficulty finding important papers, hire someone to help you set up a simple filing system.
  • The manner in which you organize and plan is up to you, whether your choice is a detailed planning system or simple to-do lists. Electronic devices are great when you’re on the go, and computer software calendars and organizers are useful for those who travel with a laptop. You might find a program like Microsoft Entourage, which provides project management tools, helpful. The important thing is to choose a system that works best for you.
  • Technology is a godsend, and a curse. Email, the internet, and faxes are fantastic business tools, but they can be great timewasters as well. Unless you have urgent outgoing or incoming communication, check your email and faxes after lunch and again later in the day. Respond to the most urgent and put the others on your agenda for the next day. As much as possible, set aside a scheduled time for emailing, faxing, or surfing the net. This will make it easier to set limits.
  • Communication is important, but too many phone interruptions can leave you with a feeling you’ve accomplished nothing. If your days are fragmented with incoming and outgoing phone calls, schedule blocks of time during the day to return or make calls. Consider hiring an administrative assistant to answer and screen calls, or allowing calls to go to voice mail if you’re in the middle of a project. Cell phones are a great way to keep in touch, but don’t be afraid to turn your cell phone off.
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