You’re looking at your to-do list at home and at work and thinking there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done! Here are some ideas to effectively manage your time during these summer months.
1. Clarify your goals and strategy
Be very clear about your aims and ambitions, both short and long term. Write them down. Maybe a sit-down family dinner is a goal two or three times a week. Write it down and why you want it. Maybe you want to take some Fridays or Mondays off to spend with your kids. Write that down. Once you know what you really want to achieve (and why) it’s easier to make decisions about what needs doing, and to plan accordingly.
2. Focus on your top priorities
You’ll be more productive and successful at work if you identify and focus on the leadership areas most important to you. Work on the fundamentals first. The Latin word ‘fundamentum’ means foundation – so take action to build a strong leadership foundation and the rest should follow.
3. Schedule time
Literally write an appointment in your work planner (you do have one of those, don’t you?) to set aside a realistic block of time for your priority actions. This reduces anxiety over not having enough time and keeps you focused. This also puts your mind at ease and allows you to sleep at night, instead of staying up wondering whether that priority project is getting done.
4. Say no!
Consider Jim Rohn’s suggestion. “Learn how to say no. Don’t let your mouth overload your back.” Always check your schedule before committing to anything new. Don’t allow others to divert you from your objectives. I also love the reminder that “no” is a complete sentence. You don’t need to explain it or add to it. It stands alone.
5. Create supportive systems
This includes systems for filing, management information and communication, both at work and at home.
6. Take a reality check
Will your current activity have a positive outcome, or are you doing it to avoid something else? Ask yourself – will doing this take me towards my goal? As Peter Drucker observed “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
It’s tempting to do something yourself when you think you can do it faster and better. It’s these thoughts where I really push my clients to consider the long term – delegation and education now will save time in the future, and, if done appropriately, can motivate your staff, boost their confidence and help them develop their skills.
8. Repeat your success
Remember the last time you went away on holiday, and how you got so much done in those few days before you left? What strategies and techniques did you employ that made you so effective and focused? Can you repeat them? Alternatively, imagine you are going away tomorrow and work through today accordingly.
9. Balance your life
Formally schedule personal activities too, so you make time for family, friends, your health and fun because having a balanced life reduces stress and increases energy levels. Time management is really about life management! You’ll feel better about the hard stop in your workday when you sit down for that meal with your family, than you will when you’re answering the call from you child at 7 p.m. asking why you weren’t there for dinner.
10. End the day
At the end of the working day, tidy your desk, make notes about what needs doing tomorrow and prioritize those tasks. You’ll worry less that evening and be prepared and focused the next morning.
No matter which way you get there, I hope you find some much needed time away from work this summer to enjoy family or even enjoy yourself.