12 Tips for Time Management (Part 1 of 2)

 

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.”  – Abraham Lincoln

 At Merlot Marketing, we have a client services training that we walk our employees through quarterly (at least, we strive to).  Overall, the purpose of the training is to reiterate that as an agency we are in the service business.  Of course, results and performance are critical, but ultimately, what makes us successful is the level of service we provide to our clients every day.

As part of the training, we review and discuss the skills of effective time management.  After all, without time management, stress escalates, deadlines are missed, and in the end, clients and your internal team are not happy.

Obviously, the skill of time management comes with experience.  However, as general guidance, we have 12 tips for Time Management.  The following are the first six:

 

Tip #1: Spend time planning and organizing

Using time to think and plan is time well-spent. In fact, if you fail to take time for planning, you are, in effect, planning to fail. Organize in a way that makes sense to you. If you need color and pictures, use a lot on your calendar or planning book. Some people need to have papers filed away; others get their creative energy from their piles. So forget the “shoulds” and organize your way.

 Tip #2: Set goals

Goals give your life, and the way you spend your time, direction. Your optimum goals are those which cause you to “stretch” but not “break” as you strive for achievement. Goals can give creative people a much-needed sense of direction.

Tip #3: Prioritize

Use the 80-20 Rule (80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort). The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent. Once identified, prioritize time to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward. Prioritize by color, number or letter — whichever method makes the most sense to you. Flagging items with a deadline is another idea for helping you stick to your priorities.

Tip #4: Use a ‘To Do’ list

Some people thrive using a daily To Do list which they construct either the last thing the previous day or first thing in the morning. Such people may combine a To Do list with a calendar or schedule. Others prefer a “running” To Do list which is continuously being updated. Or, you may prefer a combination of the two previously described To Do lists. Whatever method works is best for you. Don’t be afraid to try a new system — you just might find one that works even better than your present one!

Tip #5: Be flexible

Allow time for interruptions and distractions. Time management experts often suggest planning for just 50 percent or less of one’s time. With only 50 percent of your time planned, you will have the flexibility to handle interruptions and the unplanned “emergency.” When you expect to be interrupted, schedule routine tasks.

Tip #6: Consider your biological prime time

That’s the time of day when you are at your best. Are you a “morning person,” a “night owl,” or a late afternoon “whiz?” Knowing when your best time is and planning to use that time of day for your priorities (if possible) is effective time management.

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