How to manage your time better

Recently, Jon Attwood from our Porterallen team ran some training in-house regarding time management. The following tips have been taken from his training session, hopefully they can help you too. I told Jon, ‘I’m pretty good with my time,’ but he reminded me, we all need a little help sometimes to prioritise and plan.

What is time management?

“At a granular level, time management is the principle of spending the appropriate amount of time in the most appropriate place”.

Why is it important?

A survey by Proudfoot Consulting (now Management Consulting Group) found that in the UK alone, wasted time cost the business GBP80 billion per year. And a survey by McKinsey who has 1,500 executives globally found only 9% deemed themselves “very satisfied” with their time allocation and only 52% said the way they spent their time matched their organisation's strategic objectives.

What are the consequences?

Poor time management can lead to several negative consequences. Individually, there is a lack of focus and prioritisation which can lead to missed deadlines and appointments. It can also lead to feeling overwhelmed with your workload which can make it harder to find the motivation to get on top of things. Because of this, your issues can snowball and lead to a poor quality of work. When you’re stressed, you rush and have poor attention to detail which means more mistakes are likely to be made.

There are also consequences that affect your team or organisation. For one thing, it is hard to trust someone who isn’t leading by example. Relationships may be strained because of this. Secondly, as teams would need to reconvene more often to get back on track, time will be wasted on meetings that could have been avoided with the right management. Lastly, there would be financial penalties. For example, when you can’t work effectively to maintain promises for an SLA.

Additional consequences can be an inefficient workflow, being easily distracted, and procrastination.

Tips on planning

Always plan your day!

If you struggle with planning or how to plan, follow these 3 steps.

1. Plan

  • What does success look like today?
  • Create a list before you look at emails
  • Prioritise difficult and important tasks first

2. Refocus

  • Take a breather or a 1 - 2-minute break every hour
  • Review your plan
  • Recommit your time

3. Review

  • Shut down your computer
  • What worked? Where did you focus? What distracted you?
  • Repeat the plan tomorrow, with improvements from what you’ve learned

Tips on prioritising

  1. Create a To-Do List at the end of each day
  2. Review your workload regularly
  3. Remember 80:20 – 80% of our work contributes to less than 20% of its value.  Prioritise the 20%
  4. Set realistic deadlines for your tasks
  5. Allow for time interruptions for urgent and important tasks
  6. Structure your workload – avoid taking on too much
  7. Don’t let your inbox drive your workload
  8. Tackle the most complex projects first – this is a weight off your shoulders
  9. Keep multitasking to a minimum
  10. Keep a log of your workload

Tips on procrastination

  1. Don’t go over emails that you don’t need to
  2. Keep your mobile phone just out of reach
  3. Don’t buy into every possible distraction

A great thing to keep in mind is from Peter Drucker’s ‘Effective Executive’ which outlines it only takes 15 minutes to really get into the beginning of a task, the doing time is variable and the wind-down time is also 15 minutes. This gives a good indication of how much time you should plan to put into a task, knowing that it will take 30 minutes to start and finish. This can help beat procrastination because you will have knowledge of exactly what’s ahead of you.

Some other tips on procrastination and productivity can be found at our blog: 7 certain ways to be more productive and beat procrastination