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Top Tips for Time Management

Sue Robins - Monday, May 16, 2016

 

In our world today, people are busier than ever. Our days, weeks and months fly by in a frenzy of activity until we find another blurry year has passed. Where has the time gone? What did I accomplish? It’s true that our society is moving at a blistering pace and in the workplace the highest achievers are those who manage their time exceptionally well.

 

Good time management is not about who can work the fastest and cram more tasks into the same amount of time. Good time management requires a shift in focus from activities to results, for simply being busy is not the same as being effective. Good time management comes from planning, implementing systems and continually evaluating work activities…it is working smarter, not harder.

 

Here are a few suggestions to boost your workplace productivity and time management prowess:

 

Question Your Actions

 

Beware of “busy work” – those mundane tasks that are always there to distract you from more important projects. Ask yourself, “Given my list of priorities, is this the best possible use of my time right now?” If not, stop what you’re doing and redirect your efforts toward an activity that will give you a greater bang for your buck.

 

  • Closed Door Policy (Sometimes)
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  • If constant drop-in visitors are impeding your headway on important tasks, don’t be shy about closing your door for a time (an hour or two) to discourage interruptions and allow you to fully concentrate on your work.
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  • Curb Your Communications
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  • Responding immediately to continuous phone calls, emails and instant messages can quickly eat up your work day. Send your calls to voicemail and check your messages and email once in the morning, once after lunch, and once more before you leave the office. This strategy provides for timely response to important issues and also allows you to get some work done.
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  • De-clutter Your Desk
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  • Piles and stacks of papers on the desk can be a distraction for some. If this sounds familiar, try organizing and clearing the way so you can focus fully on the work at hand.
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  • Take Note
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  • Keep a pad of paper on your desk and write down the to-do’s that come to your mind while you’re working on other tasks. This will empty your head of the things you’re afraid you might forget and allow you to be present with your current to-do.
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  • Organize To-Do’s
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  • Sorting through an unattended “in-box” tray can quickly become another time-sucking undertaking in itself. Rather than piling all of your incoming paperwork into one tray, set up a series of action files on your desk with one for each type of to-do (“to read”, “to file”, ”to contact”, etc.). As you receive new stacks of paperwork, take a second to sort the to-do’s into the appropriate files for when you’re ready to take action.
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  • Schedule It
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  • If you have activities and tasks on your to-do lists that never seem to get checked “done”, try scheduling time on your own calendar to work on each of them. Commit an amount of time on a specific day for each item (or each day for recurring items) and watch them magically disappear from your list.
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  • The 30 Seconds (or Less) Rule
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  • Some to-do items can be completed super quickly – so evaluate them as they cross your desk. If it can be completed in 30 seconds or less, just go ahead and knock it out – and off of your plate.
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  • Procrastinate When Needed
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  • In contrast to the 30 Seconds (or Less) Rule above, let routine, non-priority items that can take a bit longer to complete pile up for a few days, then schedule some time on your calendar to take care of them all at once.
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  • Find Your Groove
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  • Hopping back and forth from one activity to another can be a big time-waster, rather than constantly switching gears, try to handle the bulk of one type of to-do at a time. For example, make all of your calls, send all of your emails, set all of your appointments, etc. before moving on to the next task. This allows you to get in a groove with each activity, saving time and effort in the process.
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  • As you can see from the simple suggestions above, time management is not rocket science, however, the combined effect of making small adjustments to how you approach your work can reap big results.
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  • With a little thought and planning, you and your team can raise your time management I.Q. and stop working harder than you have to!

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