Managing time is not about finding or creating more time during your day. It is all about accomplishing important tasks in the most efficient and time-effective manner. As professionals, all of us want to get more done, better and quicker. But procrastination and inconsistency get in the way.
Here’s are a few steps to help you streamline your time management system:
This first step, which seems the most obvious, is also one of the most difficult steps to follow. Some people prioritise all their tasks equally while in reality that is not the case. All you need to do is complete a couple of small tasks to accomplish a bigger task. The rest of the items on your list are usually not as urgent at present and can be handled later. By clearly marking tasks according to urgency and importance, you can manage and use your time more effectively. Your to-do list will not only become more manageable but you will also be able to focus on what is more important.
Break bigger items on your to-do list into small tasks
The biggest enemy of effective time management is procrastination. We usually tend to procrastinate when the task at hand seems too big and formidable. To avoid this, break the bigger tasks on your to-do list into smaller and more implementable tasks. It is all about perception — when you see the same tasks in small doses, they look more manageable.
Once you have prioritized your to-dos, it is time to break them down further to make it more manageable and see the results.
Set a time limit per task
If you have all day to do something, that’s how long it will take. In order to streamline, you need to give yourself a time limit per task. It is the simple stuff like looking at the clock and telling yourself, “I need to get this done by the end of the hour.” This works very effectively because if we have a close deadline, we tend to manage our time to get work done within the stipulated time.
Limit the number of tasks
The general consensus is to do as many tasks as possible. But the best time management system is to actually limit how many tasks you complete per day. Keep it two-three essential ones.
Why would one limit their output, we they can easily do much more than that?
This is because you’re not consistent. You’re not a robot that generates an equal amount of work with an equal level of quality. Some days you are very energetic, while there are others when you are not. To streamline things, you have to be consistent. It’s easy to complete two or three essential tasks a day. Five, Six, Ten…NO!
Once you have finished those few most important tasks, stop. Even if you feel you can complete more work, save that creative energy for tomorrow. You will become more and more consistent with your output each day. And consistency is key to a tight system.
Don’t just look at the number of tasks but concentrate on the quality of output too.
Delegate what you can
Once you have a task list in place, it becomes much easier to start delegating.
The trick is to have enough documentation and details in your checklists and manuals to pass on work to subordinates who can manage without having to involve you in tasks where your presence / input is not required. This helps save your time and allows you to concentrate on tasks that are more important for you and need your time and energy.
*This article was first published in HT Shine Jobs.