By Lisa Zaslow
Many people struggle with time management. But the fact is, time can’t be managed. A more effective way is to work on eliminating these top time wasters. It’s one of the easiest, most effective ways to be more productive – which is what we’re really hoping to achieve in the attempt to manage time.
Here are some of the most common time wasters and tips on how to avoid them.
Interruptions – It takes much more time than you think to get back on track.
-Schedule blocks of time where you can work without interruptions
-Ignore phone calls and e-mail when you are getting things done
-Note where you left off if you do get interrupted
Not taking time to plan – Things take longer (and go “wronger”) when you wing it.
-Determine your goals and objectives before starting a project
-Schedule planning time – at the beginning or end of each day; before starting projects
-Determine the appropriate order in which things should be done
-Develop realistic estimates of how long things will take
E-mail and the internet – you can get trapped in it like quicksand.
-Don’t attend to e-mail continuously throughout the day. Work in dedicated “sessions” – try for 3-5 times per day
-Create templates for messages you write repeatedly
-Delete messages without reading them based on subject line and sender
-Keep track of time spent. Ask, “Am I really doing something important?”
Ignoring your energy levels – when you’re tired, hungry or bored, it takes much longer to get things done.
-Do your most difficult tasks when your energy levels are at their highest
-Take breaks when your energy drops
-Determine activities that boost your energy – have a snack; go for a brief walk; switch activities
Meetings – I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on the time that’s wasted in meetings.
-Have a written agenda before you begin
-Be clear on the outcomes that must be achieved
-Keep track of time; start and end on time
-Make a note of anything you committed to do after the meeting
Inefficient processes – extra steps take extra time and require extra effort.
-Create streamlined routines for things you do repeatedly
–Use checklists and forms to ensure consistency
-Determine where you can save time and eliminate steps
Squandering small chunks of time – you’d be amazed how much you could have gotten done in the 10 minutes you spent playing Solitaire or discussing last night’s big game.
-Determine tasks you can do in 5-10 minutes or less
-Perform regular maintenance activities that you tend to ignore
-Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and notice what you can accomplish
Fear – what could you accomplish if fear didn’t slow you down?
-Determine the next action you can take
-Get started – even 5 minutes can make a difference!
-Take “baby steps”
-Ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
Pick a couple of time wasters that you know slow you down and work to eliminate or reduce them over the next few weeks. Become aware of when you waste time, and notice the difference it makes when you stop it!
Lisa Zaslow is the founder of Gotham Organizers and is a nationally recognized expert on organization and productivity. She helps individuals and businesses to be more productive, more organized and less stressed. She is the author of Can’t I Just Shred It All? 101 Quick Tips to File – and Find – Your Important Papers, available at http://101filingtips.com To receive Lisa’s free super-easy tips to save time and be more organized right away visit http://GothamOrganizers.com
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