Friday, February 17, 2012

More Time Management Tips

I am looking forward to a relaxing, three day weekend and wish all of you a relaxing one too. Like most families,our weekends are very busy and although we strive to plan out some relaxing, down time sometimes it doesn't happen with sports, parties, activities and homework projects. Last weekend I helped my son focus on planning out his science project so that we all weren't rushing around at the last minute trying to finish it. I've realized that a fifth grader still needs a lot of guidance, support and overseeing to make sure work isn't left to the last minute. My husband and I have gotten burned a few times staying up late the night before something was due helping our son complete a week's worth of work in one night.

Of course, I got a lot of pushback that he could do it himself, don't worry, etc. Of course, Mom persisted and after strongly encouraging him (okay forcing) him to read the project outline, together we came up with goals and a timeline. It didn't take long and at the end of the 30 minutes or so he had a huge smile on his face and he said, "that wasn't so bad. Thanks Mom!"

As I've said before in other posts, a significant piece of time management is planning and also managing the procrastination demon that can influence all of us. We can all relate to how my son thought coming up with a timeline for his project was going to be hard and take too long. In most instances whatever we are dreading, once we start, we realize isn't as bad as we thought and also doesn't take as long as we think.

So I go back to some tried and true time management strategies for success:

Plan out tasks: with a big project, break down the tasks and set deadlines and then figure what needs to be done first to meet your short-term deadlines so that you can meet your overall project deadline.

What is your best time: capitalize on it and do your hardest task then.

Bundle like tasks.

Get to know the 4 Ds: Decide, Delegate, Defer, and Delete. Decide what your priorities are now, delegate if you can, defer what can be done later, and delete what is no longer relevant or a priority.

I do think planning in some relaxing down time during the week can be revitalizing and ultimately help increase productivity. Productivity equates to good time managment.

What are some of your time management strategies?

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Year's Organizing Tip #3 - Managing Time

Okay, I realize it is mid-February now, but we are still in the first quarter of the new year. The number one reason why most people want to get organized is to do more with their 24 hours, and to live better. We all feel pressed for time and really the best, easiest and cheapest way to add more time in our day is to find it through getting organized. Do you know that the average person loses an hour a day looking for things, day dreaming, procrastinating and trying to figure out what they should do? I think this is a conservative estimate and really most of us waste more time daily. How can we stop this continual waste of time? If you do the math, an hour a day adds up to two weeks a year of wasted time.

The following ideas can be applied to both our personal and work lives and these days the lines have blurred. I recommend keeping separate action lists for work and home, but one calendar. Use what makes sense for you, but maintain a calendar and if you have a family make sure that everyone is aware of the entire family schedule for the week.

Here are some ideas to buy back time:
1. Plan out your day – if you don’t plan, you react and you have lost some control to your day. Of course, there are days when it is necessary to react and handle emergencies. However, strive to identify your weekly to dos and then put them as tasks to complete daily. Plan out your week and figure out your best days, based on other appointments you have going on, to complete your priority tasks.

2. Bundle Like Tasks – make calls together; check e-mail at certain time(s)…not all day, etc.

3. Daily Wrap-up – plan to spend 15 minutes wrapping up your work day. Identify any e-mails that need to be answered, last minute calls to be made, neaten up your desk (put things away) and make sure your schedule for the next day is all set and still reflects your priorities.

4. Know your Best Time – identify the time of day when you feel the sharpest – “most on” and that is the time to do your hardest task – the one you tend to put off.

5. Use Productivity Tools – I love to use the timer on my iPhone and I make a game out of it trying to beat the clock. I find using a timer really helps when I have to do something that I find more challenging. Other tools are action lists (electronic or paper), Outlook, productivity apps, and electronic gadgets. Be careful to not let the very gadgets that are suppose to be helpful rob you of time. Know how to use them, use them wisely and don’t let them take over your life – have a shut off time.

6. Templates and Systems – If you find yourself repeating a task regularly (answering similar e-mails, explaining something repeatedly, etc.), then create a shortcut document or template that you can tailor individually. Try to keep your systems as simple as possible so that you can maintain them easily. A system is a place to store like things and then forming a habit to process it and keep it up - i.e. mail – where you are going to put it and when/how it is processed.

7. ORDER – Organize, Routines, Decide, Edit and Readiness (see my blog from Sept 2011).

Please let me know some of your timesaving strategies. I am always looking for good productivity apps to recommend.