Oh, how time flies!
If you are ever surprised by looming deadlines or get caught out by distraction then you’re not as effective as you could be.
So make time for planning and follow our top 10 tips for managing your time more effectively and getting things done.
How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? – Dr. Seuss
Getting Things Done
Last year I was very busy. Life was hectic. So I resolved to remedy this and manage my time more effectively and start getting things done.
What follows are the strategies and tactics I use. I’m building on previous ideas and experience and present an approach that helps me get things done every day.
Try them. Shape them. Or share some of your own ideas.
1. Start With Meaningful Objectives
Do you spend time on things that aren’t that important or not directly related to a meaningful objective? Or you get things done and find they don’t advance your goals?
Without meaning objectives are lifeless and lacklustre.
Instead of go swimming once a week I choose swim 5km under 2 hours at the Sport Relief Swimathon in March as meaningful objective.
This objective is both meaningful and SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound — and is linked to a personal goal about health and wellbeing.
2. Link Your Meaningful Objectives to Projects and Next Actions
Some objectives are too big or complex to work on.
Therefore it’s always a good idea to break them down into smaller achievable projects. The objective create a top 100 leadership blog could be split into a number of small projects and task. For example:
- write two quality articles every week,
- grow mailing list to 500 subscribers by end of 2013,
- regularly engage 50,000 unique visitors each month by December 2014, and
- prepare a free e-book on project management processes.
Creating a project helps you to track your tasks … your next actions.
Next actions are tasks that have no dependencies. They are the things you need to do. They are the basis of getting things done!
3. Tackle One Task At a Time
Every morning think about the most important tasks you need to get done that day. Then do them one-by-one.
If you’re writing a report or preparing a business case you need concentrate on the task. Every time you are distracted by an email or interrupted with a phone call your attention is diverted and focus lost.
Getting things done means managing your time effectively, eliminating distractions and tackling one task at a time.
When I’m working on something that needs my full attention I turn off distractions and let my team know I’m unavailable for a couple of hours.
4. Clear Your Head
Where do you carry your ideas? In your head? In a notebook?
These are your collecting points. Other collecting points may include meeting notes, inbox, voicemail, downloads folder, wallet, purse or the mail.
From these you know what you need to do. But do you know where to begin?
Managing your collecting points is about clearing your head and sorting through all the information you gather into one consolidated system. I use Nozbe* to organise my time and get things done. You may prefer a notebook or other application.
Just clear your head!
5. Control Your Email
Email is a big distraction. If you are serious about getting things done you have to get ahead with email. Process email at fixed times and avoid constant checking.
The goal is to have an empty inbox at the end of the day with everything read and processed once. To avoid opening and closing a message without taking action.
This means deleting messages, replying to emails, delegating tasks or deferring for a time.
6. Delete, Delegate, Do or Defer
An empty inbox requires discipline. You get things done quickly when you focus is only on email.
Scan your messages by title, sender and recipient and find those messages that aren’t relevant to your work. Delete them.
Now deal with the rest. Open the remaining messages, read them and decide what needs to be done. Either delete them, reply or delegate to someone else for action. If a more considered response is needed defer it.
7. Plan Your Week in Advance
Review you objectives and tasks every week, prioritise and plan. Do this without fail.
Having a clear idea of the things you need to do focuses the mind. It’s easier to put aside distractions. And great to leave work knowing you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
8. Schedule Meetings with Yourself
Getting things done calls for effective time management. There is nothing more important than fulfilling your objectives and finishing tasks.
Therefore, set aside time to work on your projects. Schedule meetings with yourself and get things done!
9. Schedule Recurring Tasks
Schedule appointments in your calendar to talk with colleague, friends and important account managers. And for routine tasks. Clear your mind. Make them recurring.
10. Use Tools to Help Manage Your Time Effectively
I use Nozbe* and Dropbox for capturing actions and information wherever I am. Since it’s in the cloud I can access my tasks and information wherever I am.
Find and use tools that work for you. If paper’s your thing stick with it. If not try something else and start getting things done.
How do you manage your time?
Creative Commons image courtesy Jack Keene.