Effective Time Management

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 Busy lives and work schedules can sometimes affect the way we think and make decisions. Rushed decisions can lead to costly results. The secret to good management of a business is good time management. Ensuring that your company runs like clockwork must start at top level. Bad management can only decrease the morale and efficiency of the company.

Good leadership is the key to success of any business. The decisions and future of the company relies at Management level, but ensuring that decisions are made correctly and action is taken promptly relies on the individual’s Time Management. A delay in making a decision or reacting to a problem can be a costly business mistake.

There are various time management systems that can help to track tasks, deadlines, resources and are great to use for time management tracking, but a diary or notepad can be just as effective. Time management software is very helpful and is particularly good for teams where various people are collaborating on the same project. It allows you to plan and to develop good employee time management habits. The software available ranges from basic to do and task tracking to complex project management systems. Whatever you choose to use will increase efficiency within your organization.

There are various time management classes and courses available that management and staff can do to learn some basic tasks. You can usually find time management seminars that you can attend if you have limited time available. There are skills and tools you can use for time management which can quickly be implemeted accross the organisation.

Time Management is something that needs to be learned and practiced, it must be mastered and become part of your life to be truly effective. Once you have mastered good time management skills at work, you will find that you automatically apply them to other areas of your life.

Tools for good Time Management:

  • Planning
  • Prioritizing
  • Being prepared
  • Delegating
  • Allocating Resources
  • Following up

These tools are a guide to assist you in implementing Good Time Management practices both personally and throughout your business.
Planning – Time Management Skills
Good planning is probably one of the most important aspects of good Time Management. Knowing what is happening at present and what will be happening in the future will help you to plan your time more efficiently.

Find out what is going on in your business, anything that could have an impact on resources or become a critical issue needs to be considered. Analise the issues and be prepared for them. Estimate the work load required, who does what and how long it will take. Anything that can be done earlier in preparation should be done and therefore easing the pressures at the critical stages.

For example if your business is currently quoting on a major job, then analyze the resources that will be required if you win the contract. Will you require any additional staff, or perhaps your staff might need some specialized training, do systems need to be altered, will special equipment be required, who will manage the process, what are the critical milestones?. Knowing this information can assist you to prepare a planning schedule and ensure that when the time comes, your company will be ready. Not only will it ease the pressure but it will also ensure customer satisfaction.

Estimating the time a task will take is extremely important. If accurate estimation is difficult, then break down the task into smaller sections, then estimate these. It is also important to work out who will do what, and what needs to be done in what order. Set deadlines for each milestone and ensure everyone is aware of these.

No matter how small the job is, preparation and planning are essential so that you can get things done properly and on time. Nothing worse than leaving something to the last minute and then finding out that it is going to take longer than you expected or worse the deadline has been moved forward!

Keep a diary and maintain it accurately. Set deadlines for yourself on every task or job and ensure that stick to these. If you make diary entries for everything that you need to do everyday, you will soon be able to gauge at a glance how busy you can expect a day to be before you commit yourself to anything extra.

Review your diary at the end of each day and if something got missed or wasn’t finalized move it to a new day and allocate a new deadline. Try and stick to your plan, there will be times when the unforeseen happens, however with good planning this should have minimal impact on your time.
Prioritizing- Time Management Skills

Assess your tasks for the day and work out a priority system. Critical tasks, important tasks, essential tasks, and other tasks. From your list, give each task a priority and within each priority an order of importance. Once you have done this, you can begin tackle each to task in order of importance. So even if your day ends up being chaotic, at least your critical tasks would have been done.

Most busy people will tell you that it is amazing how much you can fit in a day. This is often true, the reason is because when you have very little time, you try and get as much done in it, whereas when you have a lot of time, you tend to relax more and therefore achieve less.

Make each minute count, if you can manage to do a couple of things at once then better still. If you are on hold on the phone, maybe you can type a memo or letter while you wait. If you own a mobile phone, you would be amazed at how much you can achieve on the way to work in the morning. Don’t wait to get to the office before you confirm your appointments for the day, do it on the way in. More time saved!

Being Prepared – Time Management

Being prepared will ensure you don’t waste any valuable time. There are many ways of being prepared from being informed to ensuring you have everything ready. Knowing what is coming up in the future and by anticipating what might be required of you will ensure that you are prepared adequately.

We mentioned before that knowing what is coming up in the future will help you to allocate resources and ensure you have everything ready for when the time comes. This applies equally on a personal basis as well as company wide.

It is never too early to start preparing, better sure than sorry. For example if you have a monthly meeting, then don’t wait until the day before to get your material ready, start the day after the meeting to prepare for the following meeting. As the month progresses you can add information and keep your notes updated. By the time your meeting comes, you will be ready in just a few minutes instead of in hours. Less pressure and you will ensure you haven’t forgotten anything or left out anything important.

Delegating and Allocating Resources- Time Management

Learn to delegate effectively and you will be more efficient at everything you do. It is not a matter of getting everyone else to do your work, it is more a matter of using resources wisely. There is no point you attempting to do something and wasting 3 hours on it, when someone else could do it in 1/2 hour.

Sometimes we tend to waste time looking for information or trying to analyze something, when someone else might already have this available. Get to know your staff better, find out who does what and what each person’s strengths are. Use your staff’s knowledge and abilities to their highest potential.

Consider external resources when something needs to be done. There are specialists in just about every field, chances are they have the knowledge, equipment and a better understanding of the work required. This would enable you to be free to handle other more important matters.

Following up – Time Management

Following up on outstanding issues will ensure there is no last minute panic. By ensuring that things run on track and work is progressing steadily, you will ensure that deadlines are met comfortably. Leaving things to the last minute or finding out that something hasn’t been done at the closing of a deadline is not good time management.

Spread the tasks over a period of time (refer planning) and follow up to ensure that each one is completed as per the plan. If something is running behind find out the why. The reason could be that the task has been allocated to the wrong person, or perhaps that problems have arisen and these were not anticipated.

If you continually follow up each task and deadline, then you can react to any problems encountered while there is still time.

There are many tools to assist you in good time management, diaries, palm pilots, alarms, software applications and other things, however the best time management tool is being organized.

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