We have plans for just about everything in life. We have business plans and marketing plans. We make wedding plans, vacation plans, weekend plans, college plans, financial plans, meal plans and party plans.
I would argue that when it comes to how to make the best use of your time each week, you should have a time management plan. It makes perfect sense. A smart time management plan will help make you better organized, more efficient and better equipped to analyze and improve your own performance from week-to-week.
Here are five tips to help you develop a time management plans that works for you:
Use a weekly planner. Every Friday before I leave my office I do what I like to call “setting up my week.” That’s where I lay out my priorities for the next week. I simply categorize the work that I am going to do on Monday, with my highest priority item first. For the rest of the week, I categorize work to be done that week by client. Again, same idea with most important jobs listed first. I do this the old fashioned way, writing my planner out by hand on a legal pad. You may prefer a more high tech approach, using your iPad or smart phone – whatever works for you. You can use any number of templates that you can find online. The bottom line is that I keep my planner in front of me at all times so I can continually monitor my progress.
Prioritize relentlessly. Lay out your goals for the week by priority. Assign time limits to your priority tasks, but maintain flexibility. I tend to underestimate how much time many jobs will take, and find myself adjusting my plan as I proceed through each day.
Start strong. I find Monday is my lynchpin day. That’s why I insist on having my time management plan completed before I leave work on Friday. That gives me time to mentally set myself before I come to work and “hit the ground running” on Monday morning. I know if I get out of the gate strong on Monday and achieve my goals, that I create a sense of momentum that tends to carry me through to a successful week.
Neutralize time-wasters. Identify those items in your plan that gobble up your time and do what you are able to control or minimize those time-wasters. Watch the length of meetings and discussions. Eliminate distractions that hurt your effectiveness. Some things might be better taken off your to-do list completely.
Identify resources to help. Can you call on a colleague to help with a project? Are you able to delegate projects or meetings? Do a little research and see if there is a more efficient way to tackle an assignment that is causing you difficulty. Group forums through social media platforms like Linked In can be particularly useful in this area.
Don’t procrastinate. If there is something you are dreading taking care of this week, try this approach: DO IT FIRST! There is nothing to be gained by avoiding or delaying important work that you are going to have to take care of eventually. Procrastination only adds more pressure to your workload because the distasteful job you are avoiding today will still be on your list tomorrow, along with the new items that have been added to your load.
There may only be 60 minutes to an hour or eight hours in a work day. However, a good time management plan that is pursued with vigor and energy will leave you feeling energized because of what you are able to accomplish each day.