Welcome to the final 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, Master Time Management with 7 More Time Management Tips and Master Time Management Yet Another 7 Time Management Tips.
22. Ensure your team has the training they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
It is particularly important for new staff to be given the necessary training and support for them to be able to work effectively and to feel comfortable with the job. During the first weeks, a new employee will probably feel stressed and insecure as she/he grapples with the demands of the job, the codes and the practices of the organization. Clear instructions, continued support and friendly faces make all the difference during these initial weeks. The time you spend training your team is repaid ten-fold in the time you will save reworking, fixing mistakes, giving instruction and over-seeing work.
23. The less crisis management the better – keep your goals clear, your plans specific and your priorities flexible.
Make sure that each and every member of your team understands the team goals, their role in the achievement of them and how they contribute to the team plans. Don’t allow time to be wasted because everyone isn’t crystal clear on what is important and what is not. Clearly articulated and agreed-to team goals help to galvanize team efforts, and ensure everyone is moving in the same direction. This way it is easier for team members to identify priorities on a daily basis.
24. Develop your concentration skills.
Multi tasking is for the birds. It is a buzz term that scatters your energy and diffuses your effectiveness. Don’t waste time attempting to do more than one task at a time especially when a particular task might require a sustained period of concentration. It has been proven over and over again that focusing your efforts and energies on one task at a time is far more efficient that trying to shift concentration continually. ‘Learn to focus and work through the negative, procrastinating thoughts in your head. When you get the urge to throw in for now, or put it off till later, take a refreshing break (not a new task!!) like a quick walk, a stretch, a drink or just some deep breathing with eyes closed then refocus on the task at hand. It’s a habit, so stick at it with determination. Eventually it gets easier. 25. Let go of perfectionism.
While it is very normal and advisable to strive for excellence in whatever you do, an excessive striving for perfection can be both stressful and counter productive. While certain practitioners (such as doctors, research scientists and air traffic controllers) cannot be content with ‘near enough is good enough’, most of us need to balance our quest for perfection with a need efficiency. Some corners are meant to be cut. Don’t compromise on quality, but do balance the level of perfection with the importance of the task and the required or anticipated return on investment.
26. Be assertive when you see a better way of doing things.
Your work group may be less effective than it could be, simply because you are hesitant to contribute suggestions for improving work practices. It takes a certain level of risk to voice your opinion, but think about the risk of not voicing it and simply following the established practice which wastes time, resources and effort. If you can see a better way, tell some one. Or just do it and see what happens. Your lead may be all the example needed to change a work practice for the better.
27. Always leave time free at the beginning and end of each day for review, reflection and preparation.
This habit may seem a little wasteful when every moment counts but 30 minutes spent at the end of every day reviewing the day’s activities and identifying the lessons is time well spent. My motto is that every day which passes without a lesson learnt is a wasted day. Lessons take quiet time to become conscious, so give yourself the gift of reflection time and improve your skills on a daily basis. The same applies to the start of each day. Check your diary and to-do lists and prepare your heart, mind and body for the action ahead. Wake up 30 minutes earlier if you must, but find the time to save the time in the long run.
28. Take control of your career path and set goals for every aspect of your life.
Many people who feel trapped in a mediocre job or organization are extremely good at rationalizing why there is nothing they can do to change the situation. Some examples:
*The job’s terrible, but I’ve only three years to go until long service leave. *People my age can’t change jobs. In fact, I’m lucky to have a job. *I’d need a degree to get any further - all those years of hard work are not worth it. *My boss treats me like dirt, but at least the money is good and the other staff are OK. *I’ve become too specialized, there is no way I could change careers now.
Nobody is suggesting that making career changes is easy, but be aware of those situations in which you are simply choosing the path of least resistance, even though you are thoroughly dissatisfied with where your job is now taking you. If you feel you are getting nowhere in your current position, take some time to consider what steps you can take to improve your career, either within or outside your present organization.
You may need to undertake further study, make appropriate contacts or develop extra skills over a considerable time frame to achieve your goals, but isn’t it worth the effort? Since we spend such a high proportion of our waking life at work, surely it’s worth a reasonable investment of time and energy to ensure that we obtain a reasonable (and preferably high) degree of fulfillment from our work? As one wise man once said: “We all get 24 hours every day, it's what we do with them that makes all the difference. "
One Final Word
I hope you have found this series of articles useful. Remember, time management is in fact another way of saying self management. If you want to improve or change a behavior, you need to create the new habit slowly and consistently. Do one thing at a time, and work at it each day for at least a month, before your try to introduce another new behavior. Be patient with yourself. It may not happen over night, but eventually, with persistence and determination, it will happen.
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 .