March 14, 2013

5 tips for managing your time

Not enough hours in the day? Good time management can help you to grow your business and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Time management specialist Geoff Prior helps people to work more effectively – and here he shares his top five tips.

How well you manage your time could shape the future of your business. “Most people start out by doing everything themselves,” says Geoff Prior, Principal Consultant and time management specialist at Lingford Consulting. “Then they get so busy with things like accounts and administration that there’s no time left to build the business. They’ve hit a plateau and nothing is going to change until they start using their time more effectively.”

Good habits also support a healthy work-life balance. “Everyone needs to set aside time for their family, relaxing and doing the things they enjoy,” Prior continues.

Geoff’s top five tips are a good place to start.

1. Get organised

Being disorganised wastes emotional energy as well as time.

Get rid of clutter in your office. Throw out anything you no longer need and organise the rest so that the things you do need are easy to find. Keep only current projects on your desk and avoid storing anything in piles.

2. Clarify your priorities

Unless you’re clear about your priorities you can’t be sure that you’re using your time effectively.

Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix (PDF 7KB) provides a useful framework – unless you’re dealing with a crisis, you should be focusing on tasks which are important but not urgent.

 3. Use one diary

Consolidate all of your commitments, both work and personal, into one calendar or diary system. Quite often we over-commit at work because we forget about things we have agreed to do outside the office, like taking a holiday or attending a school sports day.

4. Do more delegating

People who don’t delegate tell themselves:

  • it’s quicker to do it themselves;
  • no-one else can do the job properly;
  • there’s no-one to delegate to;
  • other people are already too busy;
  • it’s not fair to delegate difficult work;
  • they don’t have time to delegate.

Set against all of these perceived disadvantages is one overwhelming benefit – the more you delegate, the more time you have to grow your business.

Take a fresh look at your to-do list and make an honest assessment of what you could hand over to someone else. Take the time to explain what you expect and how you want the job to be done. And don’t fall into the trap of taking it back if it isn’t perfect first time or because it’s something you quite enjoy.

5. Learn to say ‘no’

Constantly agreeing to do things you don’t want to do, or simply don’t have time for, can leave you feeling angry and resentful, create high levels of stress and even lead to burnout. Anticipate these kinds of requests and be ready with a polite but firm refusal.

Read more tips about time management.