Posted: Wed 7th Mar 2012
EN reader Anna Davis is a coach specialising in time management. She got in touch after reading our discussion about the best to-do list apps a few weeks ago and volunteered her ten top tips for making the most of your time. Take it away, Anna"¦
How often do you say "I haven't had time"¦"? Yet, look through history and think of people who you admire, who have achieved amazing things: they all had the same number of hours a day. So how did they achieve it?I have discovered many techniques for making the most of your time and achieving more. These fall into three core areas that will vastly increase your effectiveness, feeling of control, and ultimately your happiness. Here, I am sharing three or four tips for each area.
1. Clarify your business and personal goals. This deceptively simple exercise is a good starting point: Write down ten things which you would like to achieve within a year, large or small, and assign each of them a target date. Focus on the one that would have the biggest impact on your life/business. Write down all the actions you need to undertake to achieve that goal. Decide what you can do this week and do one action every week to move you forwards. 2. Remove extraneous activities. If I could magic you an extra hour a day, what would you do with it? Alternatively, if I took away an hour a day, what would you stop doing? Now"¦replace one with the other! 3. Look after yourself. We can cope with almost anything as long as we are both mentally and physically strong. Schedule (in your diary) regular time each week to exercise and to relax. Keep that time sacred.
4. Organise your paperwork and emails. Use an A-Z filing system for your paperwork, make sure you "auto-filter" emails which are not priority into their own folders (for shopping, Facebook, Ttwitter updates, interesting but not crucial newsletters etc.) so only key emails land in your inbox. 5. De-clutter. Don't try to de-clutter a whole room. Break it down into individual shelves or drawers. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to making progress and put each item into one of four buckets - keep, throw out, give away (charity/ Freecycle), sell (eBay, Gumtree, and so on). 6. Put systems in place. Design systems and routines. The more you can systematise your customer process, for example, the more efficient and professional you will be. Create generic emails which you can copy and paste and then top and tail for the emails which you frequently write.
7. Delegate.Don't take everything on your own shoulders. Delegate or outsource tasks where possible, especially the ones you hate doing. 8. Plan. "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Many things on our to-do list are not actions at all, but "projects" requiring two or more steps. Write out all the steps so you know where to start and what is stopping you. Make sure the first step is a clear physical step which you know how to do. 9. Create a "power hour" each day when you switch off Twitter, emails, phones and any potential interruptions and you focus on the most important activity you need to achieve that day. You will be amazed what you can achieve, although you may find it hard if you are a Twitter junkie! 10. Stop procrastinating. Select an issue which needs thought but which you have been putting off. Start a timer for exactly five minutes. Brainstorm (do not judge) the issue non-stop until the timer goes off. Read through and underline any significant insights or actions. What can you do first? These ten snippets of advice are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more techniques and much more depth to uncover. If you would like to move from hectic to effective, contact me to find out which of the packages I offer would suit you. Don't procrastinate!
Anna is a coach specialising in time management and offers bespoke services to small businesses and for mums. You can find her on her Balanced Mum and Achieve Balance websites. Photo credit: WoodleyWonderWorks