Proven time management tips.
Here are over 50 ideas, tips and tricks to help you make better use of your time.
1 Attack meetings.
Don't go. Get someone else to go in your place.
Leave when you can - you might not need to stay for the duration.
Attend for a "slot". Join when you need to, leave when you can.
Don't hold them. Try missing one.
Specify the purpose of the meeting. What will it achieve? ("To discuss the new project" is not a purpose, it states what you will do. What will the discussion achieve?).
Always have an agenda and stick to it.
Write your agenda items in terms of outcomes.
Start and finish on time - as you promised when you called the meeting.
Hold meetings on Friday afternoons or shortly before lunch. This often encourages people to finish on time.
Hold "unimportant" meetings in a room with uncomfortable chairs. Whilst discouraging attendance and quality input, it encourages speedy meetings.
Keep to the point in discussions.
Reach conclusions and agree actions with deadlines.
Ensure follow-up on conclusions and actions.
2 Fix your phone calls.
Get an egg timer and watch the time you spend on the phone. Time passes easily on the phone.
Jot down what you want to achieve before you make the call.
When you answer the phone say something like, "Hello Alison, I'm pleased you've called me. I've got five minutes just now before I go to my next meeting." This tells Alison in a nice way that she's got five minutes.
Finish calls when they're finished. Don't let them drag.
Time budget your calls. Try to keep to your deadline.
Get a secretary to screen your calls.
If you don't have a secretary, use your answering machine. Your message could be, "I cannot speak to you right now but please leave a message and I'll get back to you when I can."
Don't phone the chatty person, email them.
Ask someone to email you on the matter.
3 Say no to things you don't want to do. Here are nice ways to say no:
"I've been saying no to similar request from other people."
"For the foreseeable future, I can't take on more tasks without dropping others."
"I'm afraid doing that would reduce the quality of the work I'm doing on other things."
"If you mean only a few minutes then yes. If you need longer, then I'm having lunch at 12:30 and I'd prefer to give it quality time then."
4 Deal graciously with intruders
Put a "Do not disturb" sign on your door or better still "Back in one hour" (more people ignore the second sign);.
Tell people when you are available and when you're not.
Lock your door.
Put yourself between the door and the chair that they'd sit down in. Sensitively and with subtlety block their path to the chair when they come in.
Stand up when they come in and stand a bit closer to them - they'll take a step back.
Ask them nicely why they're visiting you.
Suggest a meeting at a later date.
Meet people in their office or in a meeting area - it's easier for you to leave than to get them out your office.
Perch yourself on the edge of the desk while talking to intruders.
Position a big clock in your office so they can see you looking at it.
5 Set an example
Don't send the memo or email to someone who doesn't want it.
Don't respond to "as soon as possible". If it's your boss or a helpful colleague, ask them for a realistic deadline.
When you write memos or emails, keep them to one page maximum.
When you write memos or emails, give deadlines but nicely. ("I'll need this back by 24th January - please contact me if this is a problem" or "It would helpful if you returned this by no later than 15 May").
6 Reduce your paperwork
Throw away everything you can. Do not file it.
Empty the "Deleted" email folder every month.
Handle each piece of paper only once.
Handle each email only once.
Think before you write.
Consider hand-writing your response and sending the original back.
7 Sort yourself out.
If someone else can do it, delegate it - but don't delegate it if you cannot control it.
Use a "to do" list.
Stop procrastinating - take the first step and finish it.
Be clear about your priorities.
Get results, not perfection.
Don't waste the time of others.
Minimize the time you spend on unpleasant tasks.
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