Maguire Training's Top 10 Tips for Better Time Management
If, as a business leader or sales manager, you've ever looked at your workload and thought 'there just aren't enough hours in the day' the chances are that you may not be managing your time as effectively as you could be. The modern work environment is invariably fast-paced and busy and an inability to manage time properly can result in stress, lowered morale and a decline in productivity.
Help is at hand; Maguire Training offers a range of business skills training courses aimed at equipping managers with the skills and strategies required for Effective Time Management, but for anyone who feels they need a little extra time for their tasks straight away, here are our top ten tips for better time management.
1. Learn to say 'no'
Do you have to attend that meeting, or could you delegate it to a member of your team? Can you really afford to take on another task or are you too polite or eager to impress to refuse? Taking on more than you can comfortably manage equals stress; it is better to apologise and decline politely than to promise something you ultimately can't deliver.
2. Cut out the time-wasters
Idly surfing the web for the latest news or weather, sending or reading non-work-related email, chatting at the water cooler or focusing on mundanities such as filing and photocopying all eat up valuable minutes when there are more pressing issues at hand.
3. Prioritise by deadline
It doesn't automatically follow that a task which is regarded as 'important' is also 'urgent'. Differentiate between the two and prioritise tasks in accordance with their deadlines, dealing with the most urgent first.
4. Keep email simple and to the point
Attempting to compose the perfect email and including reams of unnecessary information when a simple message will suffice uses up valuable time. Practice refining your email and avoid getting drawn into extended email 'conversations'.
5. Keep meetings strictly to time and to the agenda
Meetings that stray from the agenda into unrelated topics have a habit of over-running. If you're chairing a meeting, quickly and politely guide attendees back to the agenda as and when necessary. A useful tactic is to advise attendees in advance that you have an appointment that coincides with the end-time of the meeting and that you therefore cannot afford for it to overrun.
6. Organise your workspace for maximum efficiency
Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place in your workspace, as having to search for paperwork or other items needed for your job because you've forgotten where you left them is another avoidable waste of time.
7. Break down your workload into manageable units
Every task and problem can be made more manageable and less daunting by breaking it down into individual actions. The same applies to your workload as a whole; if, for example, you have a number of emails which require replies, group them together as a task and dedicate a set time at which you will deal with them.
8. Delegate effectively and appropriately
Having rationalised and simplified your workload as at tip 7, you may find that tasks that are suitable and sensible for delegation to others, freeing your time to concentrate on more important work.
9. Make a realistic plan and stick to it
For the last half hour of each working day, set out a plan for the following day's work, prioritising tasks and allocating time to them accordingly. Similarly, for the last hour on a Friday, set out a rudimentary plan for the following week. Ensure that a degree of flexibility is incorporated in your plans to allow for changing or unforeseen circumstances.
10. Empty your mind occasionally
Planning, prioritising and dealing with the various different aspects of your workload without pause can become stressful and counter-productive. Recognising the need to take a short break and focus on mental relaxation clears the mind and can help to maintain efficiency and motivation in dealing with tasks.
For leaders and managers who simply can?t afford the time to attend off-site business skills training, a comprehensive range of effective time management courses such as the excellent 'Time, Task and Planning Skills' is available via Maguire Training's versatile E-learning platform which enables study whenever and wherever delegates find it most convenient.