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Make the most from your time

How often have you packed up at the end of the day and wondered where the time has gone, or what has been achieved? It’s a common scenario for many, particularly if the individual is feeling swamped by their workload, or has other worries. Time spent worrying is wasted time.

Your most valuable resource, TIME can be spent, lost, divided, manipulated, shared and saved. A great deal of time can be spent in procrastination activities that do not add value to your day. In this blog we will look at ways to maximise your time, giving you the space in your day to do things you love as well as the things you have to do.

Planning

It sounds obvious, but planning is often overlooked in a busy day. To take 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to look at what needs to be achieved, and prioritise the tasks ahead is a great way to get some order to the day. Equally, at the end of the day, time to clear down what has been achieved, and what will need to roll to the following day will help you switch off from the work environment and not spend your personal time worrying about things you had forgotten to do.

This planning time will include checking emails, an activity that can take a fair amount of time if your inbox is anything like mine on a Monday morning. Schedule time through the day to check your emails again to ensure something of top priority isn’t missed. In doing this, you can set rules that unimportant emails are sidelined into a separate folder, and only those of importance are flagged to you.

Build in energy planning into your schedule too. Identify when you are at your most productive and ensure your top priorities are tackled in this time and worked through to completion.

Environment

It is important that you have a working environment that is conducive to concentration. Clear, tidy and quiet are the key concepts here; particularly when you need to concentrate on top priorities it is important that you can deflect any distractions. This should also apply to your screen. Only have open applications that have a direct requirement for the project at hand. Don’t open social media, or unless entirely necessary, emails! If at all possible, ward off colleagues, phone calls and tea runs to be able to concentrate fully.

Learn to say No!

This can be a tricky one if you are career building, but it is an essential skill to learn. Whether it’s known in your organisation as “pushing back” or simply as prioritisation of your workload, saying no is essential to avoid being totally swamped with work. Colleagues will understand if you simply cannot fit their request into your schedule if you explain the constraints, but if you feel you want to say yes then provide the requester with an honest time frame to get to their task without impacting your own requirements. Managing expectations of your colleagues is a skill honed with practice, but definitely worth doing.

Minimising meetings

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? However, being called into meetings that eat up your time is the bane of many people’s lives throughout organisations. If your workload is reaching critical mass, it may be wise to speak to the organiser and find out if it is truly required that you attend, or whether your input would be more use after the minutes are issued.

It is all too easy to be pulled into meetings about meetings that lead to further meetings. If this cycle is prevalent in your place of work, it can be hard to break the spiral, but in order to ensure your schedule, it may be the only way. Step back where possible. Or delegate.

In short the key to making the most of your time is ‘know yourself’. Plan for your working patterns, to suit your strengths and to overcome your weaknesses, and remain as flexible as you can through it all.