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Time management - Strategies for getting on with it



Strategies for getting on with it

Visibility

Keep a list of your jobs close at hand where you can easily see them. This will have two effects, one to remind you of what you should be doing and the second as an indicator to others that you are busy and have jobs to do. This might typically cover a week of your diary.

Rank review

Constantly check the jobs that you have and make sure that the trivial ones are either given there just ranking or removed completely as irrelevant.
Just by ranking they would be low down the list or in Box 4 as ‘not urgent’ and ‘not important’, see ‘urgent v important’.

Minimise

If jobs are too large break them down into smaller bits. These feel much easier to manage. You must be aware of all the parts so that you can plan them into your diary so that you do not miss the final deadline.

Tick off

When you finish a task cross it off of your list as visible progress is good for morale.

Kick off

For your tasks over the next day or so decide on the order in which you will do them and keep to it.
Start off the day with one of your jobs that you don’t like.
Once these are done it will feel all downhill for the rest of the day.

Your time

If you need to do something for yourself don’t wait until you have the time as you probably never will, put a slot into your diary and do it.

Challenge

Force yourself to finish something for a particular deadline. This works well if you like the extra load of another deadline but can motivate you to complete the task.
This is often a good approach for a task which you may easily let drift otherwise. It often applies when you are doing a job for another and the completion date is a little vague. Forcing a deadline upon yourself frees you later to do something else and removes possible worries that might be hanging over you.
Reward yourself for the completion of particularly unpleasant or boring tasks.

Delegate

This comes in a variety of forms. You can pass the task onto another in your team at work. Outside of work, if a job is unpleasant or time consuming, and you are in a good financial position, you might pay someone to do it for you. If neither option fits the bill you may be able to trade, especially if it involves a trade of skills. Delegation is covered in more detail elsewhere, see ‘poor delegation and the team’, ‘delegation process’ and ‘delegation towards independence’.

Routine

You may find that you have some simple tasks that you do on a regular basis. It might be easier if you did these on a regular basis at the same time.
For example, checking the mail, walking the dog etc. other things to consider could be.

  • Get up early.
  • Relax and a read a book or newspaper before looking at the plan for the day. Others may wish to get started straight away.
  • Have a good breakfast.
  • Look for an opportunity to do some exercise during the day.
  • Focus on your goals and avoid negative thoughts, situations and people.
  • Spend time on jobs that require planning.
  • Take time to have a quality break during the day, for example, have your lunch break in a park.
  • Leave work on time.
  • Avoid excessive TV, eating and drinking.
  • Spend quality time with your family.
  • Write a list of jobs for the next day.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Desktop

Make sure your desktop is conducive to managing your work easily. See this topic covered elsewhere, see ‘desktop management’.

Measure

How can you see how well you’re doing if you don’t measure your output and hopefully your success. Keep track of your ‘productivity’.
Measure actual progress against your target to gauge your efficiency and correct as necessary. Display your progress as a graph, for example bar graph or a line graph so that you can easily see present and past performance.

Check

If you have particular trouble with your self discipline get someone to keep an eye on you. They can review what you should be doing and if necessary check that you have done jobs to a certain standard.

Negative

If you don’t do the job what will happen? If you can make this image as graphic as possible it will help you to keep on track. Emphasise this negative impact and perhaps exaggerate its effects. If the impact will be on you, so much the better for encouraging you to tackle the task.

Fear

Many people do not tackle tasks because of fear of the activity itself. Many people find telephone calls at best awkward and stressful at worst.
Sometimes it is good to confront these unfounded fears. It may not be the telephone call itself but the person you need to contact. You will find that fears are often unfounded and additional exposure to that task serves to reduce the problem.
Perhaps plan your approach.

Start

If you wait till everything is in place to begin a task that you would rather not do, you can convince yourself that the time is never right and fail to get going.
Try starting tasks and worry about what you need as you go along. Once started momentum will keep you going until it is finished.

Exposure

If you keep the job visible on your desk, or the relevant equipment to start it, you will have a constant reminder to start the task.

Mentality

When you start your day determine your mindset. You have 2 options, to do the tricky jobs and increase your stress or leave them and worry about them.
Which day would you like?

Others

Most jobs will be done to help satisfy the needs of others. You could motivate yourself if you consider their feelings if you fail to complete the task.

Positive

Imagine that you have completed the task and it has gone well, everyone is happy and you give yourself a treat. This positive image can help you get on with the task.

Benefit

Focus on the end result and what it will mean to you personally. This must out way the trouble you will take to complete it.

Part

If the entire task seems rather daunting then try to imagine one or more parts of it that could be enjoyable. Perhaps exaggerate the good points or make parts fun to do. This may go hand in hand with breaking down large jobs into manageable bits.

Reward

Look forward to getting jobs done by planning a reward for yourself.

Energy

If your own health is poor or you lack sleep it is unlikely that you will be in the right mood for tackling the trickier tasks.
Choose specific times of the day for these when you might feel at your peak.

Confidence

If you have confidence you will approach a task with more energy. Tell yourself that you are good, can do it easily and you will be more likely succeed.

Non - PRINCE2 information