If you want to do every aspect of your job properly, you need to ensure that you manage your time effectively. Although you shouldn’t ignore minor issues – after all, they can turn into major problems if they’re neglected – it’s important not to get side-tracked by the small stuff. So how can you worker smarter?
- Assess how you use your time, and focus on where you add the most value
- Organise your time – make lists, prioritise and delegate
- Don’t procrastinate – and learn how to say “no”!
How many times do you change your plans to sort out urgent issues? To get the important things done, you need to start managing your time as well as you manage your clients investments.
It seems that there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Clients call with problems in the morning and before we know it, another day has gone. The chance to plan properly and take care of the more important things never quite seems to arise.
However, there are ways to work smarter. It won't stop the clients calling but a few small changes to the way you see things can reduce the burden and help free up more time for the important things. These are out top tips to get you thinking...
1. Analyse how you currently use your time
It can be interesting to understand how you spend your time. Take a first step by setting up a brief diary over say, a week or so to see how much time you actually spend on administration or compliance compared with other tasks. Remember to include the time you spend answering phone calls or replying to emails as well.
2. Maximise your value
Understand where you add value and then aim to maximise your time spent in this area. For example, you are likely to add most value in client meetings and you should therefore be looking to minimise your time spent on ancillary tasks such as administration or other less important activities.
3. Delegate where possible
One way to free up time for the important activities is by getting others to do the less important stuff for you, especially if they are faster or better equipped to do so. For example, a personal assistant or team secretary can take much of the burden of administration away from you – and would be more than worth the outlay as you use the additional time you gain more effectively.
4. Keep a 'to do' list...
Keeping a list helps you focus what needs to be done and reduces the time spent worrying about remembering things or considering what to do next – and crossing tasks off the list as you go through gives you a sense of achievement.
5. ...and prioritise
It is always easier to do the things you want to do before the things that need to be done. Instead, you should always look at your task list in a cold and clinical fashion to determine what needs to be done first for the good of your business.
Always check your list and prioritise at the end of the day. This frees your mind for your evening at home and allows you to face the morning in a positive frame of mind as the priorities are already set out for you.
6. Don't procrastinate
Many people have a tendency to put off the things they don’t like until tomorrow, filling their day instead with the easier or more fun tasks. However, this is not only inefficient, but can also induce stress as you worry about the important things becoming more and more urgent.
If you find you have a problem with an important task, promise yourself you will spend just 5 minutes on it, first thing in the morning. This limits the size of the problem in your mind as the impact is reduced – and in reality, before you know it, the task will be all but complete.
7. Get it right first time
A lot of time is wasted by doing something half heartedly then having to revisit it to change and improve. Focus on getting it right from the outset and you’ll save time.
8 Organise yourself
To avoid wasting time looking for things, be tidy. This applies as much to your computer filing system as it does to paper. Both should be ordered in a logical and easy to use way, enabling anyone in your organisation to find what they need quickly.
9. Learn to say no
Remember you can always say no to items you are asked to do or meetings you are asked to attend. This is a great way to free up time, especially if the task or meeting doesn’t really need your input. Evaluate all requests for your attendance carefully before agreeing to go.
10. Identify the dead times
To use your day effectively you may need to combine tasks wherever possible. Dead time - perhaps time spent travelling, can be used to catch up on paperwork or to prepare for the upcoming client meetings.