RedPen Mentoring: Time management: 10 Tips for hitting your own targets
Staying on track is so difficult in this age of information overload.
If you want to achieve your goals, you need focused objectives and targets that you can hit. And you need to become more productive!
Tip #1: Wasted time is the silent killer of dreams
Be aware of how you spend (or waste) your time. Keep a log for one week. Categorise according to your own circumstances: day job, chores, writing, socialising, eating, sleeping, TV, and so on. Also, compare how much time was spent on your various activities
Tip #2: Prioritise what’s important to you
If you don’t have enough time, say, for your writing, and would like to do more, give it a higher priority. Saying ‘no’ to something less important will free up time for what is more important to you.
Tip #3: Take control of your time and space
Be aware of the conditions that suit you best. Do you like to work in a tidy environment? Keep it clean. You like peace and quiet? Eliminate noise sources. Do you like to work alone? Make yourself unavailable. Determine the boundaries. Set the rules. You are worth it!
Tip #4: Do it right, do it once
If you make a hash of a task and have to do it again, that’s a waste of time – and so frustrating. Think ahead of what needs to be done, and how. Create processes and stick to them. Like filing. Don’t dither over incoming emails. They fall into three categories: needs an immediate response (in which case do it); can wait (in which case file it in a folder called ‘When I get a minute’ and don’t look in that folder until you have nothing better to do); or, it can be deleted (in which case bin it).
Tip #5: Don’t be a butterfly; block your time
It’s so easy to get distracted. Our phones ping and notifications arrive onscreen, interrupting our train of thought. Turn them off! As soon as you sit down to complete a task, switch off the phone, and your iPad, and don’t let anything (less important) interrupt you.
Tip #6: Play to your strengths
Be aware of what talents and energy are needed for various tasks and match yourself to them. If you try to complete a task when you are not at your best, it’s unlikely you’ll make a good job of it. So, don’t tackle mind-boggling challenges when you have already had a long day and are exhausted; do them when you are freshest.
Tip #7: Do today whatever needs doing today
What’s on your list for the next 7 days? In what order should you tackle them?
Some tasks might have to be done today, some might wait until the end of the week. Do today’s tasks first!
Are any tasks day-critical? Mark these as (say) ‘ON WEDNESDAY’ and list them ahead of the tasks which are not time critical, i.e.the ones that just need to be done sometime this week.
Tip #8: Multi-task
Multitasking isn’t about doing two or more tasks at the same time. No one can focus intently on more than one thing at a time. No. Also, multitasking is about doing an important task and concentrating on that while achieving something else at the same time. Have you to commute? Use that journey to complete a task. You have chores to do? Valuable thinking time away from the desk.
Tip #9: Be realistic in your deadline setting, and in your planning
Missing a deadline, like for a competition, represents a lost opportunity. Make a note, for the next deadline, to allow yourself more time to complete the task ahead of the deadline date.
Tip #10: Keep track of what you’ve achieved
At least one a week, look back to what you’ve achieved. If it’s not as much as you’d hoped, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from this.
Move the things not-yet-done into next week’s list, but review that list and slide other tasks further down your calendar if necessary.
Maybe the things you didn’t do, don’t need doing at all? Think Daleks. Eliminate them.
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