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Maximize your most precious resource
Time management is not a skill you will attain from reading an article or a book. You must develop effective time management habits to achieve greater control over your time. As we become more dependent on mobile and internet communication tools, our ability to resist distraction and stay on focused on tasks can significantly challenged.
Create your time log using spreadsheet software or graph paper. Include the following columns:
Now go and keep close track of your workday activities for two weeks.
When you have an accurate two-week snapshot of your daily activities, you’re ready to analyze and make some changes. The first thing to look for are ‘time bandits’, i.e., activities that steal your time. These include talkative vendors, dealing with broken equipment, being stuck in traffic, reading personal email, phone calls with friends, chatting at the water cooler and so on.
Some time bandits are beyond your control, but some can be eliminated by creating solutions to deal with them. Two common time bandits are interruptions from email and mobile phones. A simple solution is to schedule times during the day to respond to these messages; otherwise ignore them while you are working. Like any habitual tendency, it takes practice to change your behavior, but the benefits of increased focus and productivity will be worth the effort.
Most likely your current daily activities are not routine. To become a more effective leader you will need to control how your time is spent, and teach others your co-workers to do the same.
Create an ideal daily routine as a schedule of activities that allocates your time consistently and predictably. Your ideal daily routine should have two columns: time and work tasks. Review your two-week time log and identify the most productive tasks you need to complete. Also identify routine events like reading email, making calls and attending meetings. Map important and regular daily tasks onto your ideal routine, even if your schedule is irregular. Following this ideal routine, even if only for part of the day will show improvements in your productivity and effectiveness.
At this point you should have your two-week time log and your ideal routine documented. You now have an excellent opportunity to improve your time management, identify the most important work and put boundaries on work time versus personal time.
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