Time Is Money

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Effective time management isn’t complicated and the first step is as simple as keeping a log of all the day’s activities.

If you can identify with the 84 per cent of SME directors who handle business at weekends, or the 58 per cent who take files home, to work on in the evenings, according to a survey by O2, then better time management will bring you and your practice clear benefits.

Analysing your current situation will help you determine what problem needs to be fixed. This is where the log comes in: it will help you weed out the most time-sapping areas of your working day.

A common response is “I haven’t got time to manage my time.” But prioritising those important calls and tasks can be done on the commute to work or at the end of the previous day. A log will help you see where this could have helped you.

Procrastinating is another way of losing valuable time. Tackling the difficult tasks quickly and effectively will help clear both your diary and your mind.

Pride in your work is important, but perfectionism can do more harm than good. Time spent labouring over one task that is largely completed would be better invested in getting on with a new one.

Slow decision-making also robs us of valuable time. Your first inclination on a decision, provided you’ve considered all the key details, might be the best. Slow decision-making means there’s less time left for the other tasks in your diary.

Look at your log and you’ll realise that some of the emails you replied to or calls you answered could have waited until later. If interruptions are common, remember: you don’t need to take every call or answer every email straight away. Do you need to do so, or are you saying to yourself: “I want to answer it, just in case…?” If it’s the latter, then it can probably wait.

Queries from colleagues are a part of everyday working life, but if they’re interrupting your work on an urgent task, then they need to be left until later in the day. If interruptions are increasingly common, then managing your team more effectively can help address the situation.

Are you afraid of saying “no?” Postponing less important tasks or delegating them to colleagues is an important part of effective time management. Going back over your log will show areas where this could free up some of your time.

If your office or workspace is disorganised, perhaps it’s making your working day disorganised as well. Taking the time to file everything away or arrange it neatly at the end of one day will benefit you the following day.

If your log shows that a meeting was ineffective, ask yourself what could have been improved. Could it have been planned better? Was everyone well prepared? More effective meetings speeds up decision-making and the pace of your practice’s business, freeing up time for everyone that needs to attend them.

Analyse your current situation and see which of the above areas you fall into. Then in the next issue we’ll cover how you can deal with the correct problem to improve both your working life and your practice. In the meantime if you would like to receive a copy of our popular eBook – Top 100 Tips to Find More Time, send an email to paul@davisbusinessconsultants.com.