How Do I Improve My Time Management?
In this post, you will gain seven insights that will help to improve your time management system. Before you begin reading these insights please know that ‘Information without application is just entertainment’. In other words, don’t read this unless you are going to do something about it. If despite reading this you are not going to do anything to improve your time management skills, stop now. Save yourself the time and get back to work! If you are going to do something with what you read, then please read on.
Start to Improve Your Time Management by Forming New Habits
Habits are essential for us to be able to function efficiently. Unfortunately, some are good and some are not so good. The time management system that you have created through years of working on it, albeit subconsciously, have formed habits, habits that are hard to break.
1. Create a New Habit
To create a habit you need to do repeat the same action 21 times in any given month. For example, if you choose ‘Start each day with a daily list’, insight 2 below, then to create this habit make sure you that you write your daily list each and every day for 21 days within one month.
2. Start Each Day With a Daily List
Start each day with a list of actions that you wish to get done that day. The alternative to this is a method that 80% of the working population do. They start work by looking at their email inbox. They promise themselves that they’ll get to the actions that they know need to be done that day. Yet, each day they fail to get out of their inbox.
Ideally, your list for the day would be created the night before because this enables your subconscious to work on it whilst you are asleep.
3. Read Faster
The average working person spends 2 hours per day reading, be that on emails, trade magazines, reports, or presentations. For most that will be 25% of a typical 8 hour day. The average reading speed is 250 words per minute, though it is very possible to double your speed. This will save you 1 hour per day, or over half a day per week. You could have Friday afternoons off having achieved the same! Start with a simple online reading test.
4. Type Faster
Reading and typing are the two things that you spend most of your time doing at work. The average typing speed is 33 words per minute, though again, it is possible to double your speed. If we apply the same thinking as above you can now take Friday mornings off as well! Start with a simple online typing test. An alternative is using dictation software on your laptop, and with Mac it is built-in.
5. Don’t Use Multiple Diaries
Some people use a paper diary, some people use an online diary and some people use a paper diary and an online diary. The bitter experience of attempting to use all three methods as part of my time management system has led me to strongly recommend using an online diary only.
For those using a paper diary, move to an online diary. It will feel odd at first and then you’ll come to love it because you can put recurring meetings in with speed, add locations, attendees and attachments to meetings/appointments, and with your diary synchronised with your phone, you are never without it.
Using a paper diary and an online diary is the toughest challenge of all and my advice is to delete/bin one now because it just doesn’t work – it’s like having two briefcases. You are forever rummaging through one to find that what you need is always in the other one.
6. Your Reason for Being
This insight will seem so simple at first glance you may dismiss it. Of all insights to help improve time management, this one can make the biggest difference. Please ask yourself ‘Why are you on the Payroll?’. Most people that answer this question write down that they speak to customers, manage people, go to meetings, be part of a team, think strategically, and the list is endless.
I suggest that for anyone working in a commercial business the reason you are on the payroll is to deliver a profit. Therefore knowing your measures, knowing your targets and the part you play in contributing to the bottom line is key. The challenge is to mentally draw a dotted line between every task on your daily list and the reason you are on the payroll. For lines that cannot be drawn these actions should be reduced or removed. Moreover, for lines that can be drawn thickly between actions and your targets, these actions need to be done first and more similar actions identified and actioned.
7. Be Clear About What You Want
306 billion emails are sent each day. Few emails are sent, replied to and actioned. Most emails end-up engaging in an email thread that can last forever. Be clear when you write your emails what you want, remembering that everyone has too many emails to read, and they will skim-read the email.
Start the email with what you want, end the email with what you want and take a little more time to be clear through your email to avoid the email thread that is likely to ensue.
Make a Lasting Change and Improve Time Management Skills
Remember that you were motivated enough to research improving your time management, but it is not enough to simply research, you need to do. The Change Formula can help you make the first concrete steps towards improving your time management skills.
My advice is to grab one insight that resonates with you and commit to making that change in your time management system from today. Those people that want to grab more will fall over because the resistance to change is too high, and that is the resistance of habit.