At face value, time management is about managing your time and trying to fit as much as possible into the time allocated. Our instinct is to manage our time because we know exactly how much time we have to spend each day. But in order to be productive we have to do more than just manage time.
Managing only time could lead you to fall prey to Parkinson’s Law; the notion that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If we have 8 hours to complete a project, it will take 8 hours. Give someone a short deadline and you will see how quickly the work is completed, even more so if it is a Friday afternoon!
Training should focus on managing your tasks, your goals, your priorities, your way of working and even your energy levels. Whatever you do in your life that leads to you being better able to manage your workload can be classified as Productivity Training.
Working productively requires focus, it requires an understanding of what needs to be done and what can be eliminated. A good place to start is with the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 was first suggested by Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth was held by 20% of the people, he noticed that the distribution of wealth in most economies was similar. As the years passed this principal was applied to many different areas of life, such as quality control. In Quality 80% of defects come from 20% of the products. In sales; 80% of Revenue comes from 20% of your products. Or alternatively 20% of your customers give you 80% of your revenue. And now to productivity; 20% of what you do gives you 80% of the results. In order to be most productive, you should make sure that you focus your attention on that 20%, the value adding tasks, and you will see better results more quickly.
Being productive also means knowing where things are and how to find them when required. Getting organised and clearing clutter from your working space will help you to focus and save time wasted in searching for things. Clutter disturbs your concentration and having a system to organise your paperwork, your filing and your electronic data will help you to get more done. One of the biggest barriers is often the clutter of the mind. Emptying your mind is an important step in the road to efficiency. Clearing the mind helps you to gain clarity about results to be achieved and next actions required and creates a mind that is ready to respond appropriately to any input that comes its way.
When I was younger I hated routine and structure. Tell me to follow procedure and I’d tell you where to go. As the years piled on I realised that routine was my friend, that following procedures and having systems to work by could reduce time spent on repetitive tasks. Documenting these procedures is an efficient way to save time and avoid any loss of intellectual property. By documenting procedures you can optimise business process work-flows and provide efficiency into the future.
If you decide to engage in Productivity Training or coaching it should include the following three elements.
Managing email is one of the biggest causes of distraction and information overload of the modern office worker. This is why any attempts at becoming more productive should include better email management. All office workers should have a system to process their loaded inboxes. Merlin Mann’s inbox zero technique is a useful technique for helping you stay in control of your email. Alternatively you can use a program like Sanebox which will do the work for you. Sanebox figures out which emails are important and which ones are fit for the trash heap leaving more time for you to smell the roses.
Every morning there is a multitude of tasks to deal with. Neither the personal nor professional task list will ever be empty. Accepting this is a big step to being able to manage stress when it comes to workload. Having a place to store and manage your tasks is the next step. Managing tasks by their category, project or owner is a far more efficient way of managing your work than completing them in the order of arrival into your workflow.I use Evernoteto manage my tasks, Evernote Business is a great solution for companies to share tasks and information. There are many programmes you could use to tackle this job but whichever you chose, commit to using it and only it to truly benefit from it.
The day I started to use my calendar was the day I stopped procrastinating. Having my tasks planned and scheduled is the easiest solution for me to get things done. Having a calendar that syncs with my phone allows me to make appointments wherever I go without panicking that I may be double booking myself.
Learning to be productive takes time, but any small changes you make will add up to give you better results. Whether you are looking for time management training or productivity training it amounts to the same thing. We all need to work more efficiently in order to reduce distractions and get more of the important work done. If you or your company would like to speak to me about training please get in touch, or take a look at my online course Get Set for Success where you can learn how to manage your tasks, your email and your calendar while setting positive goals for the future.
Alternatively if you have any questions about your current system or what could work for your company please drop me an email I am always more than happy to help.
Photo Credit: Before Time Management by Ampresco