The workaholic view of time management enables the addition of new clients, catching up on your to-do list, finishing back reading, and learning about new developments in your industry. Properly viewed, however, time management lets you work productively so you can spend more time with your family and other things you enjoy. Here are 10 steps to help you do so:
1. Tackle your most important task first.
Most people try to build up to their most difficult assignment by clearing away the little things first. The most successful people do the opposite. They launch right into their most difficult job, and sometimes don’t do the little things at all.
Mark Twain, who believed in this philosophy, wrote, “If you begin each day by eating a live frog, you can be satisfied that’s the worst thing that will happen to you all day long.”
2. Set up your office space and supplies in an efficient manner.
You should be able to access everything without getting up from your desk. Your file cabinet should be within swivel reach of your chair, and you should have a three-tier inbox to prioritize your tasks.
3. Plan your day ahead of time, and use your own system to write down all your tasks.
It is estimated that spending 10 percent of your time planning saves 90 percent of the time in execution. Write down your tasks, using a system you find convenient, to free your mind for more important thoughts.
4. Once you start a task, keep working at it until completion.
Starting a job and coming back to it later wastes a tremendous amount of time in reacquainting yourself with the project, determining where you left off and remembering your thoughts.
If a task is too large to be completed in one day, break it down into pieces and follow the same method for each one.
5. Save time from software and hardware failure with thorough backup.
Do a complete virus scan, defragment your files and back them up every single day. Get the best virus scanning software, Norton 360, because the program is updated with the latest viruses every time you run it. Do an offsite backup at least once a month on a portable, external hard drive.
6. Buy a laptop if you have trouble getting away for vacations.
A change of scenery refreshes the mind and allows more efficient work when you return, rested and ready to go. A laptop helps sole entrepreneurs and other business owners get away when they are unable to afford a vacation. This method can be supplemented by forwarding phone calls from your main line to your cell phone.
7. Use the ABCDE method to categorize your work.
A = major consequence if it is not completed; B = minor consequences if it is not completed; C = no consequences but it would be nice to get done; D = something you can delegate; E = eliminate.
Do the A items first (see item #1). Checking and responding to your email is a B item (see item #8).
8. Use your communications devices, don’t let them use you.
Prevent unwanted interruptions by turning off your phone and email when working on a major projects (see items #1, 4).
9. Batch your smaller tasks together.
Do similar, smaller tasks at the same time. For example, make all your phone calls between 10 and 11 AM. Clear up all your email correspondence twice a day.
10. Listen to audio CDs when driving in your car.
The time you spend driving around is generally wasted. By listening to audio CDs, you benefit from hours of instruction that could prove critical to your business success.