Time management

Making every minute count

Improving your company’s time management skills – yours and your staff – is a cost-free way to increase your productivity and, in turn, your profits. You’ll also benefit from feeling more in control of your work. Our guide can help you discover more about how time is spent in your business. Then, by employing some well-proven principles, we can help you manage your work time more productively, with valuable benefits for you and the business.

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 How you spend your time now

Use your calendar to record how you’re currently spending your time. After a few days you’ll be able to identify important patterns:

  • The time of day you’re at your most productive, such as first thing in the morning or right after lunch. Why not avoid arranging meetings at those times so you can get more done?
  • Meetings or commitments that keep you from more important work. Can you reschedule or reduce them, or even delegate so you have time to spend on priorities?
  • How much time do you spend on non-essential activities that don’t move your business forward? Can you eliminate or delegate some of these tasks?
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 Choosing what to work on

As a manager a significant element of time management is choosing which activities need your personal attention, and which ones can be delegated:

  • Identify your top priorities – that could be growing sales, building customer relationships or managing your employees.
  • Delegate work that isn’t one of your top priorities to someone else.
  • If there’s no one suitable to delegate to, consider hiring someone new or train up an existing employee.
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 Reducing distractions

Juggling several tasks may seem productive but it’s likely that you’ll achieve more when you focus exclusively on one thing. Here’s how:

  • Create distraction-free periods so you can concentrate on your priorities – turn off your email, close your office door and ask someone to take phone messages.
  • If you keep remembering other things you need to do, write them in a notebook and come back to them later.
  • Turn off pop-up email notifications or set your email to check for new messages at longer intervals.
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 Tools that can help you better manage your time

Make better use of your calendar, particularly when managing large projects. At the start, break down the project into smaller steps, with individual due dates. Record these deadlines on your calendar along with upcoming meetings and other commitments to see if you’ll realistically have time to complete the work. Simple planning can keep you from missing important deadlines or staying late in the office to finish at the last minute.

You’ll also want to find a tool that can help you manage your to-do list. This could be a personal digital assistant (PDA), Smartphone or a simple paper list on your desk. Whatever you choose it’s important you know how to use it – and that you do.

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 Get rid of common time-wasters

Meetings are often seen as a painful necessity, but the time they take could well be spent doing more important work. Try delegating them to a colleague or setting a strict time limit to discuss what’s on the agenda.

It’s easy to waste time looking for files too. Make sure your filing system is easy to use so you’re not tempted to let papers pile up on your desk.

Try introducing a clean desk policy – clearing your desk at the end of each day will help you save time in the long run.

It takes time to switch between tasks, so you could look at emails or make phone calls in batches.

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 Common pitfalls to avoid

  • Don’t schedule your whole day – an unexpected email or phone call could disrupt the entire plan.
  • Think about reducing your open-door hours to limited times or certain days of the week. You’ll want to encourage communication, but not at any time.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve – no one can work uninterrupted for 4 hours, but 1-2 hours is possible.
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