Monthly Archives: Dec 2013

Time Management At Work – Be Smarter, Faster & More Effective

Simple Time Management Skills For The Office Guaranteed To Save You Hours, Reduce Your Stress, And Enhance Your Efficiency

Effective time management at work is about working smarter, not harder – even though managers and bosses would prefer their workers to clock longer hours in the office. These simple but effective methods can save you precious hours and reduce stress at work, while helping you get more things done.

Time management at work is often taken to mean how to squeeze the most out of your 8 hours in the office. That’s certainly being efficient – but not necessarily more effective.

Greater effectiveness comes from working smarter rather than harder. It’s often true that top performers are the ones who appear ‘lazy’. They seem to have more than enough time to get things done, appearing relaxed and stress-free most of the time.

What’s their secret? How do they manage to achive so much without working hard?

Let’s look at their secrets, and learn to adapt them to develop your skills in time management at work, so that you not only have a job – you also have a life!

Make Your To-Do List

 

There’s no question about it. Making lists is helpful in managing your time better. The difficult part is to create your list the right way. Two issues are important –

  • when do you make your list?
  • what gets on it?

When To Make Your List?

You may prefer to write your list at the beginning of your work day, as the first task. Or you might like to get it done just before leaving the office, as your final activity of the day… so that you’ll feel more relaxed at home, and can start work next morning without any delay.

Written lists are better than ones committed to memory because you won’t stress over forgetting something important. Leaving your list somewhere visible where you can refer back to it often is helpful in keeping you on track.

Making your list in a diary or daily planner can be a good idea, as it can accompany you everywhere and you’ll be able to modify it as other tasks and committments arise.

Your to-do list is a living document. It isn’t static, but keeps changing over the course of the day.

What Gets On Your List?

It is tempting to dump every task that demands your attention into your list of things to get done. But that’s of little help if your list is too long to manage.

1. Be realistic

Include only tasks that you can reasonably expect to complete during your work day. If something is important enough, but can’t be finished that day, move it to the next day’s list – or another suitable time in your schedule.

2. Set Priorities

Prioritize your list by importance. Review each item on the list and assign it a rank or number depending upon how important it is. Some efficient time managers like the idea of categorizing to-do list items as ‘A’ list (which is urgent and important), ‘B’ list (which is important, even if not urgent) and ‘C’ list (which includes most other activities).

The idea behind prioritizing your list is that you get the ‘A’ list items done before you begin working on the ‘B’ list, and likewise for the ‘C’ list entries. This ensures that your focus is on the right things and you won’t waste time on trivia.

Record Things in a Notebook

It is tempting to take notes on scraps of paper, on the back of an envelope, or on the ubiquitous sticky Post-It note. The trouble comes later on, when you try to find an older note – and waste precious hours hunting for it.

Instead, keep a notebook. An inexpensive spiral bound note will work just fine. It will help you keep track of the multiple activities you’re engaged in. Jot down everything of importance – a meeting, a conversation, a plan or idea you had, an appointment, a phone number.

A notebook will help you focus on the work at hand, and serves as a handy reminder of things that happened earlier, while saving time wasted on searching for information. Keeping your notes organized can be a powerful tool for time management at work.

Take Control of Your Telephone

Distracting phone calls are the bane of every office worker. It always seems that when a deadline looms or you need to focus intently on a project, the phone keeps ringing off the hook.

You can take charge by setting your answering machine to respond to calls with:

“Hi, John Adams here. I’m not available to take your call, but if you leave a message explaining what it’s about, and the best time to call you back, I’ll get in touch soon.”

If you have someone to handle your calls, they can use a similar script to deal with callers. Asking what the call is about will save you time by letting you assemble all necessary information before calling back. You’ll be more effective in dealing with callers and get more things done at work.

Simplicity Is Key

Time management at work can quickly become complex and involved. Avoid the temptation to make it so. The simpler your time management systems are, the more likely it is that you will continue using them. Remember that your systems should help you work smarter, not harder.

There’s much more to time management at work, and we’ll explore these elements in other sections of this website, as well as in the series of guides at Ming Vase Time Management. You can also receive updates by email when you sign up to our “Time Taozine” email newsletter by filling in the form below.

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Pareto’s 80-20 Rule

The principle named after Vilfredo Pareto spotlights the “law of the valuable few”.

Or stated differently, 20% of the things you try will bring 80% of your success.

There are 2 approaches to applying this principle.

#1 – Try 100 different things, so that you’ll hit upon the 20 that work.

#2 – Try and come up with only the 20 that will work.

But with approach #2, since Pareto principle will be at play even here, only 20% of your ‘best guesses’ will be right!

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Let’s Play ‘Doctor’

Let's Play Doctor

As kids, many people dream about becoming a doctor. Saving lives. Curing illness. Making a difference.

And then, something happens; interests change; life takes a different direction. But a deep yearning still remains of what might have been.

Well, let’s play ‘Doctor’. Imagine that you have become a doctor. A surgeon. You are at the operation table, scrubbed and gowned, standing over a patient, ready to begin a complex procedure.

Right at that moment, your cellphone rings. It’s your wife calling. What are you going to do?

Surgery begins. “Scalpel”, you call. Make an incision. The OR door swings open and another doctor runs in, excitedly sharing the breaking news of a stock market crash. What will you do?

The operation proceeds. It’s a tough case. Takes longer than you expected. You’re getting hungry. Thoughts of the hot, spicy snack they’ll be serving just about now in the canteen assail your mind. What will you do?

It’s nearly over. The repair is finished. All that remains is to make sure everything’s ok, then sew up the incision you made many hours ago. You’re tired. Bored. What are you going to do?

The reason I left these questions unanswered until now is simple. The answer is always the same.

You just KEEP GOING!

And going on until you’re all done. Till your patient is healthy and well. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how hard it is, how tired or hungry or bored you are… you just keep going.

Now imagine you’re playing ‘doctor’ with whatever you’re doing today. It may be writing a book. Or building a website. Or cooking dinner. Or running your business. Or drafting sales copy. Or planning an ad campaign. Or playing with your daughter. Or driving over to visit your mom. Or helping your spouse clean up.

Are you going to go half-way down the path, and then turn back, or get distracted, or just stop because you’re too tired?

Or are you going to keep going on – until you’re done with it?

Think about your next project like an unfinished operation you’re performing as a surgeon. If you abandon it mid-way through, your ‘patient’ could die. Focus on getting it done. That way lies success and happiness – in anything.

Yes, even in being a doctor!

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The 5-Year Ripple

Water Ripple

I read a blog. It was about an event that happened some years ago. That event touched – and changed – many lives.

On that day, something changed. It happened INSIDE my mind. It was validation of a hope or dream that I had nurtured. It showed me that it was possible.

And that change had dramatic impact.

At that point, I was earning a modest income from my online business. Within the next two years, and aided by some powerful coaching by a business genius named Jay Abraham, I was donating more than that amount to my non-profit OUT OF my business profits!

It was the dream I had when I started online. I had planned to sponsor heart surgery for children in India who came from under-privileged families by earning enough money from my writing.

Today, the Dr.Mani Children Heart Foundation has funded over 100 operations. There are many smiling faces that were made possible by that dream. And at the heart of the dream was a mindset that took root on a very special day – August 17th, 2004.

Here’s the comment I posted on that blog:

For my CHD list, I was drafting out a similar note – to mark this special occasion.

What makes John’s ‘Million Dollar Day’ more uniquely special to me is that it was followed up by a donation of $10,000 to my non-profit foundation – which sponsored heart surgery for 4 children.

I like what John says about MINDSET. That single donation broke barriers in MY mind.

Over the years since, I have not only donated a lot to my foundation, I have donated to another foundation that builds houses for the homeless in another desperately poor country halfway across the world.

And in the process of doing so, inspired many more entrepreneurs, start up business owners and writers to reach out for their dreams.

That’s a RIPPLE.

One that started out in one mind, reaches across a globally networked world to touch and resonate with other people, inspires them to live up to their potential, and in turn encourages even more others to do the same.

In reality, then, it was NOT a ‘Million Dollar Day’ – it was more likely a BILLION DOLLAR DAY

It is my fond hope that by sharing this with you, I’ve helped set off another ripple. One that will spark off a fire in your heart. And encourage YOU to dream boldly – and then set out and change the world, in your own unique way.

And live your dreams.

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Important Aspects of Time Management

There are several important aspects of time management that you must learn and master in order to maximize your efficiency and avoid stress or anxiety as you navigate the crowded waters of your busy, over-scheduled day.

 

One aspect of time management that is easy to control and manage is to keep a time log – and analyze it. This will help you better understand the things you do in a typical day, so that you may optimize and maximize what you’re doing.

To know how much time you are wasting, you need to keep a time log – and analyze it. For one week (or longer) keep a record of exactly how you spend your time. Break down your day into 1-hour blocks (or half-hour blocks, if that’s more appropriate). At the end of each time block, record your activity carried out.

At the end of the week, study your time usage pattern. You’ll notice several aspects of time management that you’ve been ignoring or overlooking in the rush to cope with your daily to-do list.

See how many hours of time you waste – and assess your peak productivity periods. Armed with this powerful information, you can improve aspects of time management and even schedule the most important activities to coincide with your periods of peak productivity.

Maybe your best time to work is when the rest of the family is asleep, and you can devote all your attention to the work at hand. Or you may be most productive in the morning hours when you’re fresh and rested.

Another important aspect of time management is learning to delegate work to others in your team. Develop skills, or find people with them.

Is there something you do repeatedly, every day? Like typing letters or email. Like sewing buttons or tears in clothes. Like taking down notes from lectures or seminars. Like reading (or skimming) piles of papers, letters, or news stories.

If you answered “Yes”, then acquiring new skills could help you save time and enhance your time management. If you type a lot, and learn to touch-type (by attending a class for 4 weeks), you’ll spend around 30 hours – but the skill you acquire will save you at least as much – in just one year! That aspect of time management is often overlooked, but can rationalize your decision to acquire a skill or invest into your future.

What if you learned shorthand – and then speeded up your note-taking and transcription?

Or attended a course on speed reading – which let you flip rapidly through the mountain of paperwork like an express train?

All these new skills cost you time and money to acquire. But over time, these same skills will help you save more time and more money – making the investment worthwhile.

When you sign up to our free “Time Taozine” email newsletter, you’ll get updates on various aspects of time management. You will also learn more about the Time Management Tao system which is based on learning how to

Hopefully this brief overview of aspects of time management are of help and value to you.
 

Time management tips | Time Management Tao Home

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