Does this day sound somewhat familiar to you?
I awoke this morning at 5:30 AM, helped get the kids off to school, then headed to the office to participate in a series of meetings that consumed most of my day. Its now almost 12-hours later and I’m catching up on voice mails, emails, and gathering paperwork to take home to work on later tonight.
On the way home from the office I picked up some last-minute groceries then took Bowser, who has been waiting patiently by the back door with his legs crossed, for a quick walk. Now it’s time to cook dinner and if you haven’t guessed it by now, my wife works full-time and her 5:30 PM flight is now scheduled to arrive at 8:30 PM. I’ve caught up on my paperwork, watched 10 minutes of the news, kids are in bed, and now its lights out…9:30 PM.
Being busy is a fact of life that too often begs the question “Where did the time go?” Life is simply more demanding today with both work and family obligations so it’s more important than ever to get a handle on managing one’s time.
Time Management is simply getting more things done efficiently and it’s easier to achieve if you understand how to increase your productivity through more effective use of your time during what I call “The 16-Hour Window of Opportunity”.
Principle One – Prioritize
We all have just so many hours in a day with which to complete tasks. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. Make a list of tomorrow’s tasks before you leave your office and prioritize each task with a number one through five (five being most important). Those tasks that score below three can wait or be completed at another time during the day and all other tasks are to receive the highest priority based upon their respective number.
Principle Two – Avoid the “Water Cooler”
If you’re in an office environment there are plenty of opportunities to waste time especially in the break room or in another Associate’s office. Pick one day next week and carry a note pad to jot down how much time you spend blabbing with peers, talking to friends or family on the phone, and participating in other situations that wastes your time. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can gain to devote to more productive tasks.
If you’re in a home-office environment, get out of the rack like you would if you were going to an office environment, ditch the PJs for a more professional attire, and make it a priority to report to your desk by no later than 8:30 AM.
Principle Three – There’s a Place and Time for Everything
Everyone is wired differently. I prefer to address more challenging tasks early in the morning when I am most alert where our CFO prefers to address them after lunch. I like to close my office door while on an important telephone call to avoid interruptions while our VP of Sales is a multi-task master and can handle any minor distraction without losing track of what he is doing. Seek a rhythm and environment that is most productive for you.
Principle Four – Delegate Authority
If you can say “No” you can delegate the task to be done by someone else within your organization. When you delegate authority you increase the effectiveness of your staff, teach someone what to do in the event that they have to stand in for you, and free up the bottleneck that you would have created hadn’t you delegated authority. Remember you can delegate authority without giving up your responsibilities.
Principle Five – Time is Money
Whether you’re a Doctor, Lawyer or Indian Chief your time IS money. Knowing how much your time is actually worth can help you to determine whether to perform a task or outsource it to someone else.
Let’s say your job title is Jane Doe, CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) and you need to look for a site for your next corporate meeting. If you make $210 a day it may take you eight hours to research a destination, one hour to put together an RFP, five hours to search for hotels, two hours calling hotel NSOs, and another 10 hours fielding calls/returning calls/emails from hotel sales. It could roughly costs you more than $5,000 to conduct the search yourself or you could outsource it to someone else.
Here are some more Time Management tips for your consideration;