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Poor time management causes stress, longer work days and can stop you meeting customer expectations. This checklist will help you get on top of your schedule.
- Stand back and establish your long-term goals. Evaluate claims on your time against these goals and not just immediate problems clamouring for attention.
- Prioritise actions which are both important and urgent: for example, where other people are waiting for your input.
- Delegate unimportant activities or drop them altogether.
- Divide major tasks into achievable blocks of work.
- Start the day by clearing the decks: quickly scanning new mail and messages, reviewing your schedule, and dealing with small, urgent tasks.
- Recognise what times of day best suit different activities: for example, calling customers when you are at your liveliest.
- Schedule your activities, deciding how much time to devote to each task and setting realistic deadlines. Set interim deadlines for major projects.
- Build tedious, repetitive or long-term activities into your routine: for example, scheduling a regular weekly project review at a set time.
- Use time-management tools and software: a diary, a to-do list, and project-planning software for long-term projects.
- Invest time in setting up time-saving systems: for example, a good filing system, templates for standard letters, and procedures for routine tasks.
- Use technology to make use of ‘dead time’ such as smartphones and tablet computers that allow you to work on the move.
- Deal with new information effectively ― act on it if necessary, delegate it if appropriate, file it if relevant or throw it away.
- Collaborate effectively. Ask others to provide what you need, in a form that suits you when you need it, and return the favour.
- Avoid overloading yourself. Only get involved if you need to, ignore unnecessary detail, and delegate routine tasks.
- Get rid of distractions: put your phone on voicemail, refuse unnecessary visits and meetings, clear desk clutter and resist time-wasting activities (such as emails and social media) unless they contribute to the achievement of aims.
- Analyse your time use: log your activities, then review how much time you wasted on unimportant matters and tasks you should have delegated.