How to manage your time

Checklist

  1. 1 Stand back and establish your long-term goals so you can evaluate claims on your time against these and not just immediate problems clamouring for attention.
  2. 2 Prioritise activities which are both important and urgent: for example, where other people are waiting for your input.
  3. 3 Delegate unimportant activities or drop them altogether.
  4. 4 Divide major tasks into achievable blocks of work.
  5. 5 Start the day by clearing the decks: quickly scanning new mail and messages, reviewing your schedule, and dealing with small, urgent tasks.
  6. 6 Recognise what times of day best suit different activities: for example, calling customers when you are at your liveliest.
  7. 7 Schedule your activities, deciding how much time to devote to each task and setting realistic deadlines; set interim deadlines for major projects.
  8. 8 Build tedious, unpleasant or long-term activities into your routine: for example, scheduling a regular weekly project review at a set time.
  9. 9 Use time-management tools and software: a diary, a to-do list, and project-planning software for long-term projects.
  10. 10 Invest time in setting up time-saving systems: for example, a good filing system, templates for standard letters, and procedures for routine tasks.
  11. 11 Deal with new information effectively: act on it if necessary, delegate it if appropriate, file it if relevant or throw it away.
  12. 12 Collaborate effectively: ask others to provide what you need, in a form that suits you when you need it, and return the favour.
  13. 13 Avoid overloading yourself: get involved only if you need to, ignore unnecessary detail, and delegate routine tasks.
  14. 14 Use technology to make use of ‘dead time’ such as smartphones and tablet computers that allow you to work on the move.
  15. 15 Get rid of distractions: put your phone on voicemail, unnecessary visits and meetings, clear office clutter and resist time-wasting activities (such as emails and social media) unless they contribute to the achievement of aims.
  16. 16 Analyse your time use: log your activities, then review how much time you wasted on unimportant matters and tasks you should have delegated.

Cardinal rules

Do:

  • prioritise
  • set and meet deadlines
  • schedule your activities
  • tackle one thing at a time
  • create efficient systems
  • delegate effectively
  • use technology to maximise your efficiency

Don't:

  • procrastinate or dither
  • try to do too much
  • allow unnecessary clutter and distractions