7 Tips For Effective Time Management

December 19, 2011

Everyone has heard the adage, “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” And that mantra is especially true at this time of year, when time spent preparing for the holidays cuts into your productive time at work. The good news is that effective time management skills will create a less stressful work environment for you and still allow you to get everything done that you need to in preparing for the holidays.

To help you improve your time management skills, here are seven tips to aid in your continuing growth from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Maryland and the DC Metro area:

1. Set Your Priorities — People with highly effective time management skills have the ability to differentiate between tasks that have a high priority and those that can be completed later. Creating to-do lists and highlighting (yellow markers work well) tasks with imminent deadlines will help them stand out from the rest of the list. Crossing out completed tasks not only looks like you have been productive, but also minimizes confusion regarding what still needs to be completed.

2. Set Tangible Goals — Goal setting is a skill itself that requires discipline. You can set multiple goals, but if you do not maintain fidelity in reaching them, the goals are pointless. Make sure your goals are realistic and relevant to the task. For example, checking your e-mail is necessary, but it can also be time consuming. To help you manage your e-mails, set certain times each day to check your emails, minimize the time spent reading each piece, and flag or print the messages that need immediate attention. It is also recommended that you focus on your e-mail writing style as most readers prefer to read e-mails in a bulleted format. (versus a lot of copy with lots of sentences and lengthy paragraphs).

3. Establish Routines — Daily routines for completing certain tasks will foster effective time management skills for you. Studies have determined that people work more efficiently when they know what to expect — both from you and you from them.

4. Focus On The Task At Hand — When presented with multiple tasks, choose one and focus on getting it done. Pull out your to-do list and start crossing out completed tasks one by one. That way, your workload will not seem so overwhelming and you will see your accomplishments as you cross them off your list. In turn, you will become motivated to continue working. Remember to prioritize to get those important, time-sensitive tasks completed first.

5. Delegate Or Outsource When Possible — Learn how to say “no” to certain time consuming projects. Simple tasks can be delegated, and some huge projects can be outsourced. For example, your administrative assistant can make certain phone calls to clients to follow up on proposals or update information; or you can outsource your advertising to a company that specializes in marketing. Be conscientious, though, when delegating as you do not want to overwhelm anyone else, either.

6. Organize Your Workspace — An organized workspace minimizes time spent locating documents, templates, materials or lists. Some people can work among chaos, but most need orderly surroundings to avoid distraction. Use folders or a binder with clearly labeled tabs to organize projects. Spend time at the end of your day preparing for the following day by updating to-do lists, filing papers and using sticky-notes on projects for quick references.

7. Use Wait Time Effectively — Many people do not consider the amount of work they can accomplish while waiting — waiting in line, waiting on hold, waiting for a download, etc. Short of beginning a completely new project, you can review lists, contact clients, organize your computer desktop, brainstorm — the minute tasks that can be completed while waiting are endless. Additionally, be ready to work while you wait by taking certain materials, like your Smartphone or notebook, with you when you leave.

Time management shouldn’t be viewed as an unassailable task. With a little practice, your time management skills will become refined, your manager will surely notice the improvement, and you’ll have some extra time for those holiday preparations.

Bonus: For more information check out our upcoming schedule of “Leadership Training for Management” courses!

This post is brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training of Maryland and the DC Metro Area. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit: renjith krishnan

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