Una Lawlor, Negosentro.com | Effective time management is a critical skill for any successful business person. Whether you’re working for someone else and trying for a promotion, operating your own business, or serving as a consultant or freelancer, managing your time properly is the best way to make sure that you avoid falling behind and keep your clients or supervisors satisfied.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of each day, make sure that you’re following these important steps:
- Set aside regular periods for quiet, uninterrupted work. Often the best times for this is right at the beginning of the day, before you’re surrounded by co-workers or on-call for clients and team members. However, if you have trouble starting your day first thing in the morning, you might find time while other people are breaking for lunch or even after they’ve ended their days. This quiet time is critical, though, for helping you get things off your to-do list. You can send emails, read or prepare documents much more efficiently when the phone isn’t ringing. It’s less important when this time is during the day than that you find the time. No matter when it is, this needs to be time when you can be productive. One part of the day that is often less effective for this type of work is right after lunch, as that’s often less productive time.
- Take time to step back and broaden your perspective. Aside from regular dedicated quiet work periods, it’s important to periodically take a step back to think about your work from a higher level. Take time to think about where projects are going or what may need to be improved – not just in a project, but perhaps skillsets that need to be better developed or areas where you could use more knowledge or improvement. Has your business or industry been undergoing a shift? Are there areas where you could focus more time to expand profits? Are there areas that take a lot of your time that you think may be unnecessary? Are there aspects of your work that you think could be done more efficiently?
- Try to compartmentalize call periods. To assist you with the first two tips, it can be helpful to try to group calls that require your attention into different time segments. After all, it’s incredibly difficult to get work done when you are constantly subjected to interruption or the possibility of interruption. Grouping calls together into different time periods will help you break your day into segments so you can better alternate between coordinating with people necessary to your work and executing on your plans.
- Take regular breaks. As your day starts breaking down into segments, be sure to regularly step away from the phone, computer, and whatever documents are piled on your desk. Take a second to clear your head and let your thoughts regroup. Try actively not to think about work. This time needs to be separate from the quiet work time or active thinking time. Just enjoy a moment of quiet; get a cup of coffee or a snack. Failure to find these break times during the day will leave your thoughts – and your work – a jumbled mess after a while.
- Stay on top of emails. When people email or text, often they are trying to mindful that you may be working on something else, and they don’t want to draw your attention completely away with a call. Whether their email requires a quick response or more thorough preparation, try not to keep people waiting for a reply. Even just a one-line message indicating that you’ve seen their communication and that you need a little time to draft a full reply will go a long way. The key is not to make people wait unnecessarily. If you have questions or need more insight before providing a response, use your initial follow-up as an opportunity to schedule a brief call with them at a time that fits your work cycle.
Effective time management is one of the keys to success in any business. While inevitably other factors will play a role, it’s important for everyone to leverage those factors they can control to give themselves the best chance of success. To ensure that you are making the most of your work hours, be sure to review and apply the tips and tricks above for managing your time effective and efficiently.
About Una Lawlor
Una is Content Marketing Manager at Advance Systems, a company that provides world-class enterprise HR software. Una has over 10 years sales and marketing experience in retail, media, finance and technology. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin with a degree in English & French, Una has extensive content writing experience and specialises in the field of people operations and HR management. You can find Una on Twitter (@lawloru) and Linkedin.