Saturday, 10 May 2008

Maximise the benefits of Time Management.

The last time management step is to ensure time is put aside for monitoring progress. It is important to understand that this is critical to gaining the benefits available to you. However don't worry, it is something that can be quite easily incorporated into your routine. Some people will do this automatically through timesheet or time recording options that are required by their workplace. However, everyone can benefit from doing it on a regular basis to assess how their time management is really working and how much you have achieved by managing your time.

The best way to approach this is to record how your time is spent over a period of say a week (and be as accurate as possible - not necessarily what goes on your timesheet) you can see where your time is going and critically see if your time is being used on the higher priority tasks. It is often found that the lower priority tasks have crept into the available time, and or you are assisting someone else with their tasks and it has taken longer than the 'can you do this for me won't take a minute' implies. Try the free time tracking / timesheet at

If you review this log of your time, you can:

1) Identify jobs that you should not be doing and re-assign or remove them.
2) Improve your scheduling of the highest priority tasks
3) Reduce the time you spend on personal activities, possibly by grouping them together to minimize time away from your desk.
4) Improve your estimates of task durations

Looking at this list in more detail, you are probably doing at least some jobs that are not really part of your job, often because it seems simpler to complete the task without referring to another person. If say you choose to revise text in a report given to you for review, it just means you will continually have this job to do in the future. Spending time passing on your critique of the work and explaining why the changes should be made mean the situation will be completely removed in the future. Saving time for both yourself and the person whose work you were reviewing. Obviously, if you are delegating a task it is worth ensuring you make some time to monitor it's completion, although hopefully that can be phased out at the next review of your time.

You may also spend considerable time assisting other people with their tasks, whilst it is great to have assistance and have the favor returned, you must review how much time this is taking from your key tasks.

Scheduling high priority tasks when you are most able to complete them with your full focus stops them turning into tasks you need to fire fight later. Friday afternoon is rarely a time when the key report for a client presentation should be started.

Vital for your planning and time management is the ability to accurately assess how long a task will take. This review of your progress will gradually, without even directly checking, improve your ability to do this. Clearly if project planning is a major part of your tasks it pays dividends to explore this in more detail, but that is not covered in this report.

It is important that once you have completed this task you return to step 2 to identify the task that you really need to do, re-prioritize and continue the cycle refining and improving your management of time.

My final point is to ensure you remember to celebrate the tasks and goals you have achieved. It keeps you focused and ensures you achieving results not just hard at work.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Easy Time Management - Step Three

Time management is a simple skill to learn, but one that can bring you huge benefits. In the previous articles we have discussed creating your task list and assigning priorities. Here we look at the key steps to ensure you make the most from your new skill.

Firstly we must revise the task list. Once your current task list is complete, consider how, what and when of your tasks. Specifically how and what you use to complete a task, plus when you do it. Are you doing this in the best way?

Clearly this should be more of a consideration where the task is a higher priority. You could try re-organizing a long working lunch into a short conference call, to focus and improve the task. However, simple adjustments, such as eating breakfast when you get to work to allow you to get through the traffic earlier, can make big gains. It is also possible to combine some tasks such as listening to an audio book / language cd whilst driving. There are now a large amount of MP3 and pod casts available for enhancing your career or simply relaxing. This can enhance how you complete tasks (and make them more interesting).

If possible, estimate how much time you think your tasks will take; give a rough estimate, ensuring that you over estimate where the duration is not clear or the task is new. You may be able to get an estimate of how long existing tasks take you from your timesheet software. Don't worry if you are not sure. This exercise, combined with step 4 (reviewing your progress) can gradually improve your estimating without any real effort.