10 ways to manage your time more effectively

Last week we talked about how a big chunk of the working day is lost every day, all because of time management issues. Unnecessary activities and inefficient processes are largely to blame, according to research featured in the piece. The research, called ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’, found that meetings, email, constant distractions and interruptions and poor systems and processes can chew up a lot of time.

So this week, we are giving you our top 10 tips on how to manage your time better, based around those four main time wasters.

Meetings

According to ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’, if organisations were to reduce the number of meetings held each year by 30%, they would benefit from 200 extra working hours per employee. Make sure meetings aren’t damaging your productivity.

1. Say no to meetings that aren’t necessary. It is very easy for teams and organisations to get mired in a meetings culture, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to change that culture. So many people complain about having to attend unnecessary, lengthy meetings, so cutting back on them could be a real popularity booster too!
2. If a meeting is important but you are too busy or unable to attend, why not send someone in your place, someone who might benefit from the experience. It could be a good career development opportunity for a colleague or employee.
3. Don’t let meetings overrun or lose focus. Stick to the agenda in hand and have clear objectives about what needs to be achieved.
4. Make sure everyone who needs to be at the meeting is at the meeting.

Email
Email is a wonderful thing and it’s hard to remember/imagine life without it. However, it does need to be kept in check. Here are a few pointers to help you manage your email:

5. If you have an important task that has to be achieved asap, then ignore your email inbox. Just concentrate on the job in hand.
6. Don’t send unnecessary emails or get caught up in ‘Reply to all’ emails. Unsubscribe to email lists you don’t want or need.
7. If email is a constant problem, then set specific times when you check your email and outside of those times, ignore it.
8. Respond to emails promptly, deal with them and move on.

Distractions and interruptions
There are a lot of these in modern life. Sometimes, an interruption is necessary and if the interruption is more important than the job in hand, then it is a necessary interruption. Otherwise:

9. Stay focused. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then switch off your phone and voicemail.

10. If you know you need a day of solid concentration, consider working from home or in a quiet room or corner of the office so that everyone knows not to disturb you.

The last time waster – poor systems and processes – is a topic that could fill a whole blog post or more. But in brief, if your systems and processes are not as effective as they should be, then work out what is wrong with them.

Where are the holes?

Where are the blockages?

Then think about how you can address the problems and what technology is out there that could help.

What are the best solutions to your problems? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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  • Top tip from me is knowing when you're at peak energy.  My best thinking is done in the afternoon, so I deal with emails in the morning and then swap to working proactively on important issues at lunchtime.  Turning off email notifications so nothing pops up on screen as they come in, really helps with the focus.

    I have to be quite firm with myself on this or emails could easily take up the whole day.  There comes a time when you just have to accept you just can't handle them all.  I read a worrying (but easily believable) article recently that suggested much of Britain's poor productivity is linked to the fact we spent most of our time in reacting and not achieving mode  

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