Time management

You know the feeling – a day spent frantically chasing your tail only to come out the other side feeling […]

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You know the feeling – a day spent frantically chasing your tail only to come out the other side feeling as if you’ve achieved nothing at all. Blake Beattie, speaker, consultant, performance engineer and author of Bullseye! The Ultimate Guide To Achieving Your Goals offers practical guidance how to stop sabotaging your own success by engineering your time.

“Time engineering refers to building better time systems that are centred around specific outcomes,” Beattie says. “It’s about keeping a strong focus on the alignment of priorities with important goals. It’s having effective and efficient outcome-focused systems that enable you to best utilise time towards the achievement of pre-determined outcomes.”

So how does one implement such a system? Beattie suggests the following five ways to better engineer your time.

The first is to begin with an end in mind, which is one of author Stephen Covey’s seven habits of effective people. “This is and always will be a crucial time effectiveness component,” Beattie says. “Never begin a task until you’re clear about the end result you’re committed to creating.”

Second is proper planning, which helps avoid the trap of not knowing what to do, which invariably leads to procrastination. But Beattie warns that while a badly planned to-do list may keep you busy, it may not equate to being effective.

“Before you start any project spend time mapping out the most effective strategies or steps that best utilise your limited time, money and energy,” Beattie says. “Always think in terms of ‘return on investment’. One minute spent in proper planning saves 10 minutes in execution.”

Next up is file management. Every piece of paper, whether in physical or electronic format, should follow the system ‘Use it, file it or lose it’. “That way you avoid wasting time by handling papers more than once,” Beattie says.

Point number four is what Beattie calls ‘Time locking’. “Where possible, block out time to spend on high priority tasks,” he says. “This enables you to minimise interruptions and achieve much better momentum around a task.”

And finally to one of the office’s greatest time-wasters – email. “Check emails only at defined times every day,” he says. “Perhaps make it 10am, 2pm and 4pm, or less if possible. Just because an email is urgent for someone else does not mean it’s urgent for you. Too many people fold to the urgency of others when it has little bearing on the outcomes you’re trying to achieve. Setting up the right boundaries and expectations is critical for the effective use of time.”

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