Do you know anyone who is not busy? Any one of your friends who says that they have 2 hours each day to spare and are more than happy to donate it to more shopping, self care and exercise? The reality is though, that each and every one of us has exactly the same amount of time in our day, yet some of us do a lot more with it than others. Working in a department of women I notice this often; while we all work the same number of hours, some of us have far more to show for it than others. And so onto the topic of effective time management. Here are my top 10 tips to get more done as a result of eliminating the most common time wasters that can become a routine part of the day if we are not careful-
1) Scan your email, delete anything not directly relevant including all SPAM, group emails, jokes and forwards. If it is that important it will always reappear.
2) Put your phone on voice mail or silent. This lets you concentrate on the task you are doing without interuption so you can return calls at the best time for you, like in the car.
3) Avoid the office chat. My collegues can spend 30 minutes chatting about their weekends before they even start work. Get in, get started and catch up over lunch.
4) Print minutes, research papers and any other documentation that requires reading and set it aside to read on planes, at the park, cafe, train or while waiting for appointments.
5) Handle emails once only - read it, answer it, file or delete it. Aim to keep your screen with just 6-10 emails so you do not get distracted and keep focused on the task at hand.
6) Change your hours to avoid traffic. You many need to start early or late but you can add an hour to your day.
7) Exercise at lunchtime. Driving to a packed gym at 7am or 6pm wastes another 30-60 minutes. Get out each lunchtime and then yet another thing on your to do list is checked off.
8) Run errands at lunchtime. The bank, doctor, anything you can get out of the way during work hours means more recreational time for you and your family.
9) Be strict with meetings. Meetings can sometimes be an excuse for professionals to look busy and important with no outcome other than a booking for another meeting. Keep them brief, outcome based and post pone or cancel if actions have not been completed.
10) Clean your desk and write a to do list each week. Having weekly goals keeps you on trcak while the clear out makes sure you are regularly filing and reminding yourself of projects that are outstanding.