I’m all for working smarter, not harder. The tips I have below will help organise you and automate some tasks to help free up some of that all important brain power.
Find a task management system that works for you, something that has a reminder system that will flag tasks up to you when they are due. There are a number of systems out there and you will prefer one system over the other. Use this as a kind of bring forward system or for flagging up things that you need to do in a week or month or even a year!
Below are some free task management solutions I like:
- Outlook Express – Tasks
You then have to write it down and plan what you’re doing and when you should be doing it, but once you have done that it will automatically remind you when the task is due and free up some brain power.
Use a calendar
I can’t quite believe it, but there are some people who still use a paper diary. I’m all digital myself so you always have it with you. Whatever method you use, ensure you put all your appointments, include travel time. I have a top tip blog for calendar appointments here.
Use the task manager to remind you what times to do task but this all fall flat if you have no time in your diary to do those tasks. Block out time in your diary to do those important tasks, that might be preparation for an appointment or scheduling time to write that big report. This is particularly useful if you have someone manage your diary like a virtual or personal assistant. Otherwise, if it’s free then they might book you another appointment.
Schedule time to do administrative tasks
If you are always back to back in meetings and feel like you never get any of the other jobs you’re supposed to do done, then start scheduling time every day to do those jobs. This helps stop the back to back meetings and gives you a bit of breathing space. Set aside an hour a day to do those little tasks. Find out when is best for you to do those tasks.
Break it down into small achievable tasks
If a job seems overwhelming, break it down into small achievable chunks. As you know I love my lists, but I also love ticking things off a list. Use something like GQueue’s if you have regular tasks to do, like preparing for a meeting. You can set up a template and then just work through the list each time you have to prepare for a meeting. This helps save that all important brain power and worrying that you might have missed something.
Emails are a terrible time stealer. The best way to manage your time is to set aside an hour a day to look at emails. If you are constantly going into email and just responding to that one, and just responding to the other, 8 hours will have disappeared and you won’t have ticked anything off your list. I have some other email tips available here.
Social Media is a terrible time stealer. I fully understand that some jobs are integral with social media and this can be as important as an email but that should be responding to direct messages or enquiries. If you find you are just scrolling through mindlessly then stop yourself and get back to your list of things to do today. Set aside a time to do this.
Telephone calls can be a time stealer. I remember running a recruitment campaign and the phone just would not stop ringing. It got to the point where I couldn’t send out any application forms as I was too busy taking names. You can let an answerphone or call service pick up if you need to concentrate on something. I mean the world won’t end if you call them back in an hour or two.
Track your productivity
Hope these help you stay on track and manage your time more efficiently. Sometimes it’s easy to just carry on when you’re busy, but sometimes it’s important to evaluate your productivity and see what you are spending a lot of time doing and whether it is adding any value. See what are your time stealers and see what solutions you can put into place.