A Dozen Simple Habits for Clever Time Management
1. Formulate your main objective for the next half year, and write it down somewhere where you can see it every time you have a look at your tasks.
2. Have a list of all your tasks written down in one single place. Beside each task, add an estimation of the time it might require. Update the list regularly, (at least every couple of days).
3. Anything that can be done in less than 2 min, do immediately, rather than putting it on the list.
4. There are tasks you feel like never doing. Don’t keep them on your task-list forever. If they are important, give them priority, so that soon you will have only more appealing tasks left. If they are unimportant, delete them.
5. Use the list of tasks to make a plan for the following week. Plan tasks only for 60% of your time, keep the other 40% as a reserve for the unexpected – you cannot avoid unexpected demands, so count on them.
6. Always do important and urgent things first. Important but non-urgent things can be planned for later.
7. Tasks of lower importance to you, delegate if you can. Once you’ve delegated, trust, and avoid over-controlling. Check results, not work-style, and in milestones only.
8. Avoid doing the same things twice. Start writing e-mail replies only when you have time to complete them. When preparing for a meeting, write brief notes or just key words that you can read immediately before the meeting, rather than going through the whole preparation again.
9. Gain more time without disturbances: decide what time you can be available for colleagues, and let them know in advance that they can come to you then. Outside that time, ask them not to disturb you.
10. Make a list of your “time killers”, such as useless meetings or irrelevant e-mails. During three days, observe how large a proportion of your working time you spend on them. Follow up on the possible shock by setting a realistic objective for each of the time killers: e.g. Facebook: 15 min a day instead of 2 hours.
11. Reward yourself with innovations that can make your work easier and faster. Download file converters, learn new key-board shortcuts for your version of the operating programme, activate the spell-check option directly in your e-mail programmes (instead of copying the text to Word and back) and so on.
12. Plan how much time you will work, and stick to it. Plan how much time you will relax, and stick to it!