Time Management - A Practical Guide
Some of the most-wanted skills amongst workers are those for which they’re given the least training. Yet e-learning can boost ‘soft’ skills fast, efficiently and affordably.
An independent Learning at Work survey conducted in May 2009 revealed a significant discrepancy between the skills desired by workers to do their jobs better and the training received to help them achieve it. For example, almost a quarter of respondents felt that ‘time management’ was their most important soft skill yet almost half said they had not received any training in it.
This Time Management Knowledge Gap is also reflected in the profile of most-read books from learning provider Skillsoft’s Books 24/7 online reference library. Books 24/7, which provides access to over 20,000 digitised IT and business books to the corporate world, recently found that its ‘most-read’ book for the month was ‘175 Ways to do More in Less Time’.
The book provides a wealth of short, sharp tips, delivered in bite-size chunks, to help busy workers pick out low-risk, time-saving ideas they can test out for themselves. Here are some of our favourites.
Top 10 Time Management Tips
1. Time, unlike other commodities, can’t be bought or sold, borrowed or stolen, manufactured, stockpiled or reclaimed, and time will eventually run out. So be certain that you use it well.
2. Use a daybook; thoughts, conversations, plans and ‘ideas-in-embryo’ are recorded chronologically and are never lost. ‘Thinking on paper’ also helps bring focus to tasks.
3. How much time do you waste making phone calls or walking to other peoples’ offices — often the same people — several times a day? Instead, create ‘talk files’ for the most-contacted colleagues, listing the topics you need to discuss; only go to that person when there are several things on their file.
5. Streamline and simplify multiple passwords and have a logical easy-to-remember reason for selecting each one. See if you can pick passwords that only need one hand so the other is free.
4. Avoid ‘perfection paralysis’, whereby one idea or concept you continually finesse in pursuit of perfection never leaves the drawing board; often, the many ‘second best’ ideas that can be more easily brought to fruition are more valuable.
6. Cut short meetings — develop ways of closing off: “one last thing before you go/we finish…”
7. Focus on starting tasks rather than on finishing them; the greatest challenge is usually taking the first step and getting started — sometimes the rest will take care of itself.
8. Every day, the unexpected is going to happen, so factor it in; set aside some ‘oops time’ every day and prevent everyday hiccups from disrupting the rest of your day.
9. Throw things away! Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if you throw something away. Most of the time, you can live with the answer. If you’re still nervous, throw it into your ‘90 day drawer’ and then dump it after that time.
10. Plan the next day before you leave — whether it’s a clear desk and a task list at the office, or tomorrow’s clothes laid out the night before at home — it will clear your mind and catapult you into the new day feeling efficient and prepared!