For so many, the beginning of the year starts with resolutions. If your resolution this year was to be more organized, less reactive, achieve more, be more efficient, etc… etc… etc… then resolve to make it happen with a few simple changes.
Begin by focusing on your time management and see how far that takes you to accomplishing more. We are all allotted the same 24 hours each day. It's how you plan for those 24 hours and how you respond to what comes your way in those 24 hours that makes all the difference.
Time management is really about self management because time will pass regardless of what we do. With that in mind, what are you doing to waste time and what can you do to be more efficient?
Your first step is to make a list of all of your obligations, when they need to be complete, and how long it will take to accomplish those obligations. Make this list as comprehensive as possible, and then try to eliminate any time wasters.
With your list in hand, you will now need to come up with a way of tracking each task. A planner is a must. One planner. All appointments, all deadlines, all goals in one place. Keep your planner close to you. If you are without it, you should feel lonely! Everything on your list of obligations should be able to be found somewhere in your planner.
Big tasks should be broken down into manageable pieces, so you are constantly working toward a finished product. Determine how long each step will take to complete to create a timeline and deadline for those steps. By scheduling the appropriate amount of time you can focus on the task at hand and eliminate the starting and stopping of a single project. If needed, work backward from the due date. When you have the timeline created transfer those dates into your planner.
Prioritize all of your obligations with the most important tasks and those with the closest deadlines being at the top of your list. Work the other obligations into your schedule around these important tasks.
Identify any time wasters so you are sure to have the time you need to meet your deadlines. If you are a procrastinator, taking the time to set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goals will help you stay on track. Do you feel most energized first thing in the morning, or is late afternoon when you get a surge of energy? Schedule your least favorite tasks when you are working at your highest energy level.
Probably one of the quickest ways to free up some space in your schedule is to determine if you are a micro-manager. If you feel you need to have your finger on the pulse of every project or every decision, you are spending too much of your time on tasks that can be delegated to others. Delegating is a benefit because it moves you closer to accomplishing a task, it empowers your employees to learn more and energizes them to work harder, plus it frees up some of your precious time. You will find that becoming friends with delegation does not in anyway minimize your contribution to the organization.
Indecision is a time waster in itself. If you are indecisive, then you have decided not to act at all. If you are not acting, then you are not freeing up time from your already overbooked schedule. If you have the facts necessary to make a decision, then make a decision. If you need additional facts, prioritize, gather the facts, make the decision, and move on.
Improve your efficiency by clearing clutter from your work area. Everything should have a place, and everything should be in its place. A clean work area eliminates stress, confusion and errors!
Ideas for working more efficiently are as varied as each of us. These are just a few tips to get your year started off with less tension and more control over your schedule. Let's all work together to have a more productive and less stressful 2012.