Chapter Eight: Effective Time Management
Tips to reduce stress and improve productivity
Noted from the Mayo Clinic Staff; Effective time management is a primary means to a less stressful life. These practices can help you reduce your stress and reclaim your personal life.
• Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the number and complexity of projects that need to be completed at work each day?
• As the day flies by, do you often feel as if you haven't paid enough attention to each task because other tasks interrupt you or you can't get it all organized?
You already know that managing your time effectively will help you get more done every day. But did you know it also has important health benefits, too?
Effective Time Management can reduce stress and enhance your quality of life.
So how do you get on track when organizational skills don't come naturally?
To get started, choose one of these strategies, try it for two to four weeks and note the results!
(Remember it takes 21 days to make a habit!)
If you have positive results with one, consider adding another one.
If not, try a different one.
• Use a Daytimer (Journal), something you can write in, with pencil. Have it open while you are working. Plan each day, preferably a week ahead. Chunk out 2 hour segments, with time for lunch and breaks. Planning your day can help you accomplish more and feel more in control of your life.
Write a to-do list (Please Note “To Don’t List” Below)
• Go back over the list and prioritize “ 1 – 5” one (1) being most important, and 5 not so
• Learn to Say no to nonessential tasks. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work.
• Delegate. Take a look at your to-do list and consider what you can pass on to someone else. (Beginning of building a “team” who do you know that can…?)
• Take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall.
• Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done.
• Practice the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 minutes each day. Once you get started, you may find you can finish it.
• Limit distractions. Block out time on your calendar for big projects. During that time, close your door and turn off your phone, pager and email.
Become aware of how you're spending your time. Write down everything you do for three days to get a good pulse as to how you're spending your time.
• Learning to prioritize and become organize you may be able to see places where you can use your time more wisely. For example, could you take a bus or train to work and use the commute to catch up on reading? Can you do some of your busy work while you are going to events with your spouse (in the passenger seat)? If you have children that you need to pick up from school or attend events, is there some who could pick them up so you can meet them there? Look for ways that you can free up some time to exercise or spend with family or friends.
Share this with your coach, he or she may be more objective!
• Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. A healthier lifestyle can improve your ability to focus and increase your concentration; in turn it will help improve your efficiency so that you can complete your work in less time
• Work with a Coach, Strategist, or Mentor. Take a time management course. Seek out a time management class. Look to your local community college, university or community education program does. Google Webinars for time management.
• Take a break every two (2) hours for 15 minutes. If you work from home, go outside, walk, jump up and down, change your environment for 15 minutes. Set your timer on your phone to remind you to take a break! Do some quick stretches.
• Most Important schedule 2 days off a week, cross them out in your day timer the week before so you know ahead of time which days you are taking off
Now for the very special “Not to do” List
Time Management - A "Not to Do List"
"With so many options and choices nowadays, you will have to start saying no to some of the good things in order to accommodate the best things." - Harold Taylor
Okay to start off, I recommend that all entrepreneurs keep a log in 15-minute increments of how they use their time every day for two weeks.
Going through this process will be an eye opening experience. It may seem labor intensive at first, but get yourself a little note book and carry it around. Set you smart phone for 15 minute time frames.
You will begin to see how you use your time, effectively or not so effectively.
You will see it in black and white. After you have accomplished this for two weeks review it and you will be able to compose “your” Not-to-do” List.
This method is simply a way for you to become aware of the changes that you need to make in order to improve your overall performance. The two week time frame will show you the areas that are non-productive and time consuming.
Here are some suggested items that have become “not-to-do” from others who have done this exercise. When you start on your own list, it will change as you become more aware.
Write yours down on index cards and post them where you spend most of your time.
Good to revisit this exercise at least every 6 months. Have someone take you through the process, work with a buddy.
1. I will not over book my time each day (I will put aside time to meditate, plan and think about my life’s goals).
2. I will not say "yes" automatically when asked to do something, without looking at my passions.
If you are challenged with this, refer to the chapter on the Passion Test
3. I will not have two-hour lunches.
4. I will not rush.
5. I will not do tasks that I can hire others to do (or barter with).
6. I will not focus on those projects that have very little value to the betterment of my company.
7. I will not constantly check my email.
8. I will not be constantly available for calls so I can concentrate on what is important.
9. I will not agree to do things I do not want to do (again refer to the Passion Test)
10. I will not fill my calendar before scheduling exercise and family time.
11. I will not eat foods that my body doesn’t benefit from.
The Ultimate Goal is to achieve Balance. The More Balance, the more Energy, the More Energy the more Happiness. .
Generally speaking a “Not to do” list is more effective for improved performance than the traditional “To Do” List”
For the simple reason, By Eliminating certain tasks, it will free you up for what is more effective in your success.
As mentioned above, try one for twenty one days, and note the results, then add another one.
1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. If you don’t know them, they are not important to answer. Instead allow it to go to voice mail, or sign up for a voice to text service such as; use of your voice mail and listen to them later.
Feel free to surprise others, but don’t be surprised. It just results in unwanted interruption and poor negotiating position. Let it go to voicemail, and consider using a service like Grand Central (you can listen to people leaving voicemail) or Simulscribe.com (receive voicemails as e-mail). Or try the Free Service with Google.com/voice
2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night (This is the time for journaling or quiet meditation).
E-mail can wait until 10am, after you’ve completed at least one of your high priority “to-do items”.
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls that do not have a defined agenda or end time
If the desired outcome is defined clearly with a stated objective and agenda listing topics/questions to cover, no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes. Request them in advance so you “can best prepare and make good use of the time together.”
4. Do not let people ramble
5. Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only
(This is one area I need to have some restraint!_
6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm — prioritize
If you don’t prioritize, everything seems urgent and important. If you define the single most important task for each day, almost nothing seems urgent or important.
Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of letting little bad things happen (return a phone call late and apologize, pay a small late fee, lose an unreasonable customer, etc.) to get the big important things done. The answer to overwhelm is not spinning more plates — or doing more — it’s defining the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.
8. Do not carry a cell phone or Smart Phone 24/7
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should
Work is not all of life. Your co-workers shouldn’t be your only friends. Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. Never tell yourself “I’ll just get it done this weekend.”
Focus, Prioritize and get out.
E-mailing (and facebook) all weekend is no way to spend the little time you have on this planet.
What other no-no’s would you add to the list? (Journal)
The Pomodoro Technique:
My Best friend of 42 years taught this to me, She sets a timer, for certain tasks and when completed checks it off and takes a 5 minute break. You can go to promodoro technique.com for more in depth information. The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980's by Francesco Cirillo. He uses a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato—or 'pomodoro', in the inventor's native Italian. It can be learned in a few hours from a free guide at pomodoro technique.com; making it a habit takes up to 21 days.
While learning this technique it is suggested to journal. If you need support they have meet-ups and are on twitter!
While any timer will do, you can purchased your own tomato for $14.95. Start each day by making a list of things to do, then tackle each in 25-minute increments called Pomodoros. When a Pomodoro is over, Mark an X on the list next to the item you are working on, then take a refreshing 3- to 5-minute break.
Nothing must be allowed to interrupt a Pomodoro.
The method is based on the idea that time-management tools and techniques should be simple; that frequent breaks can improve mental agility; and that changing the way people think about time can ease anxiety, freeing them to concentrate better.
I have to be honest and say I have not mastered the art of pomodoro and fnd myself working straight through hours before I stop a task. I am aware of the many times I do check my emails or become distracted and am going to try this method for 21 days and note the results!.
(More on this, including templates, can be found in the Number 1 Business Book)
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