Welcome to the third in a series of four articles on ways to improve your time management skills. Time management is a hot topic these days. With more pressure on most of us to do more with less, we are constantly turning to gurus in this area to try and improve our time management skills. Here are seven more tips to help you in your quest to master your time usage.
If you missed the first two articles, look for them under the titles of Master Time Management with 7 Time Management Tips and Master Time Management with 7 More Time Management Tips. After you’ve read this one, look for Master Time Management with a Final 7 Time Management Tips.
15. Never assign work to a pending category when it should be dealt with on the spot.
The danger with a “pending” tray is that it can become the easy way out – you consequently delay making decisions that could be made immediately. Avoid the temptation to develop a massive “Pending” tray (or one at all, for that matter) by making immediate decisions on all incoming mail and tasks. Try to handle a piece of paper only once (twice at the most if once is impossible).
16. Try to streamline the use of forms, procedure manuals and other low return activities.
We live in an age of legislation overload. Many organizations and individuals have created huge systems which require excessive amounts of time and energy to maintain simply because they fear what might happen if they don’t. In many cases, the forms, systems and processes are totally unnecessary. Try to focus on the KISS (keep it simple silly) principle whenever you can. Use one form rather than two. Keep hand written file notes rather than print out computer generated pages. Only get signatures when absolutely necessary. Get expert advice on what can be streamlined if you must, but make streamlining a priority for you and your team.
17. Keep meeting short, well organized and on-topic or don’t meet at all.
Meetings are the number one time waster in every organization in the world – or that’s the way most meeting participants will describe them. Before you call a meeting or agree to attend yet another meeting, ask yourself the following:
*Has a concise, on topic agenda been sent to all participants?
*Do meetings start and finish at the schedules times?
*Are decisions made and responsibilities assigned for each item covered in the meeting?
*Are concise minutes of each meeting sent within a reasonable time?
*Do you need to attend the meeting or can this responsibility be delegated?
*Have the meetings ceased to serve the purpose for which they were originally established?
*Are only those who really need to be present invited?
18. Make sure you have (or are acquiring) the skills and other essential resources for all jobs you must tackle.
The last twenty years have seen tremendous changes in the workplace, with most offices now using standard equipment that did not exist two decades ago. A large variety of electronic and computing equipment is now within reach of all businesses and there is no excuse for not taking advantage of these time saving devices. The same applies to your own skills. Make sure you have the skills you need to do your job efficiently and effectively. If you don’t either acquire the skills as soon as possible, or find some one else to do that task for you.
19. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
As a manager, you will be in frequent receipt of information which is not normally accessible to your staff. It is very easy to overlook the importance of providing your staff with such information. Keeping your staff informed, either on an informal basis or through say, weekly meetings, will not only keep them in touch with organisational developments, but will also positively motivate them in their work, as it will give them an increased sense of being part of the team.
20. Don’t allow indecision to paralyze you.
Continual indecision might have worse repercussions than abiding by a decision and subsequently discovering that your rejected alternative was preferable after all. If finding it hard to make a particular decision, you may benefit by asking yourself the following questions:
*Have I made this decision bigger and more stressful than it needs to be?
*What is the worst thing that can happen if I make the wrong decision?
*Do I have an exaggerated fear of failure?
*Is my indecision related to my difficulty in being assertive with those people who will be affected by the subsequent decision?
*Have I properly explored the various possible solutions for this problem or am I caught in a rigid line of thinking?
21. Don’t allow your team members to become too dependant on you – empower them to make their own decisions as appropriate.
This is applies to delegated tasks just as much as their own areas of responsibilities. When team members come to you with problems or questions – you have two options. Give them the immediate answer, or direct them to where they can find their own answers. The second option is more time consuming initially, but a better long term strategy for developing independent, skilled and confident team members. In the long run, this frees you up to do more of the important tasks you should be doing.
For more time saving tips, see my other articles called Master Time Management with 7 Time Management Tips, Master Time Management with 7 More Time Management Tips, Master Time Management with a Final 7 Time Management Tips.
Jo Gibney is seminar leader, group facilitator, professional speaker, writer and HR Consultant. Her commitment to adult learning is a life long passion, and much of Jo’s work focuses on developing not just work skills but also personal competencies and strengths. Check out Jo's websites at http://www.organisenow.com and http://www.dragonslayers.com.au .