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Time Management Tips

By Kristine Geimure


To achieve maximum success and productivity in the work place it is essential that we understand how we use our time at work. Like many things in life, we take time for granted and give little thought to it until we no longer have enough of it.

We all have the same amount of time each day but it is how effectively we use it that is important. That doesn't mean we have to schedule every waking second in our day, but there are several effective time saving habits that we can use to dramatically increase our productivity.

Time Wasters Include
* Telephones - particularly personal calls during work hours
* No planning of tasks - focus gives direction
* E-mail - constantly checking your e-mail throughout the day
* Surfing the Web - Jumping from one site to the next
* Casual Visitors - Unscheduled or non work related visits
* Cluttered Workplace - Includes your desk, work area, computer and other organizing tools
* Poor Quality Resources/Tools - Having the wrong tool or poor office equipment can waste hours of time every week

Many of the poor time management habits we have formed can be easily fixed by simply being accountable for your working hours, understanding exactly how we use our time and having a plan for each day. There are also habits that we have had all our life that will require a lot more commitment to overcome.

Here's some good habits we can form to eliminate time wasting;

Understand how you use each day
Honestly review your day and understand how you are wasting time, then commit to becoming more efficient with your time. It's important to be honest and objective about how you really spend each day.

Set Priorities
Even with a well organized schedule and good work habits, there is still often not enough time in each day for workers, particularly small business owners and managers. So it is essential that we prioritize tasks and categorize them into Urgent, Very Important, Important and Wasting Time categories. Spend the majority of our time on tasks that are important and either delegate low priority jobs or move on to them only after completing the more urgent tasks.

Plan Your Time
By having a clear and precise plan for each day you have a target to aim at which eliminates many of the hours wasted in-between tasks or thinking about what to do next. Along with a daily plan, there should also be longer term goals to work towards. Setting daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals can dramatically increase your focus and productivity.

Review Your Progress
Many work habits have been formed over a life time, so we will often slip back into them if we fail to continually review our progress. Some habits will be harder to overcome than others, but the effort we put into overcoming them will be rewarded with added productivity, profitability and a more focused workplace.

Take Time Out
We're only human, so we should also plan for times when we can wind down and do less important tasks. Browse the web, call a friend or have a longer lunch sometimes. It's only when we make a habit of doing these time wasting tasks that they become a problem. Through better planning and a commitment to improve our use of time we increase our job satisfaction, become more confident, less stressed, increase productivity, cut costs and improve our chances of business success!

Lists:
When preparing a "to do" list you should also consider the things you should not be doing during your day. It's fine to have a well planned to do list each day, but if you are easily distracted then it will be the things that you are doing in-between completing your list that will be the big time wasters.

Must do List!
First, get clear about what is really important and what must be done during the day. Try to only have one or two really major tasks that you have to do for the day and make them an absolute priority. Obviously you will have more time to do other thing during the day, but the Must Do list is the list that has to be done before we even think about leaving the workplace.

To do List..
After you are clear about a couple tasks that must be done, list several other jobs to do of lesser importance. These tasks should be done only after you have completed your Must Do list. That doesn't mean that they should be taken lightly or treated as a wish list. List a sensible amount of tasks to complete and perhaps an extra one or two things to challenge yourself. But do not go overboard with way too many things as you will only be setting yourself up to fail each day by never completing all your set jobs.

Must Not do List!
Now that you know what should be done, work out what should not be done, or what should be given the least priority. These are the tasks that we find ourselves doing when we lose focus or have a lapse in concentration during the day. Things like checking your E-mail every 10-20 minutes, checking statistics too often, browsing the Internet, watching hourly news reports, or whatever it is that you do to escape from your real work!

You can also use some of these time wasting tasks as a form of motivation to increase your productivity. For example, after completing a Must do task you could reward yourself with 15 minutes of browsing the Internet or writing E-mail to friends.

Most people that are actively trying to increase their productivity are aware of the importance of a To Do list, but many people forget to include the Not to do list. For those of us with wandering minds or restless feet it's easy to get distracted and caught up in doing very low priority jobs while our highest priority jobs continue to pile up. Get clear about what you should be doing AND what you shouldn't be doing to get the most out of each day.

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