The four principles of effective time management
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, many managers are under plenty of stress trying to complete multiple tasks in the next month. Here are four principles of effective time management to help you achieve more with less stress.
1. Important Items versus Urgent Items
Many managers spend their workday in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little. To make the most of your time, ensure that your understanding of what’s important is not clouded by your sense of urgency.
Important items are the proactive or progress tasks that will move you closer to your goals and objectives, help you reach a position fundamentally better than the one you are in now, and have a direct impact on moving the business forward.
Urgent items are the reactive and maintenance tasks that do not support your goals and objectives, but still must be completed, occur as a result of everyday interruptions, and leave you in the same position as you were before.
2. When are you most effective?
Knowing when you are at your best and planning to use that time of day for your priorities is effective time management. Whenever possible, tackle important work or activities when you are most alert and energetic because they will seem easier and you will accomplish them faster. Be sure to schedule less demanding tasks when your energy levels are decreasing.
3. Remain Flexible
Avoid scheduling each day to the extent that it is impossible to stay on track. Consider that interruptions are bound to happen and projects may take longer than anticipated.
To allow for the unexpected, leave some open time in your daily plan. A good rule of thumb is to leave approximately 40% of your day unplanned because certain days of the week can be more hectic and require more time. Leaving part of your day unplanned can also help ensure that you have time to work on the important tasks that will move you toward your goals.
4. Planning Time
Underestimating the time needed to accomplish a task is not uncommon. To give yourself sufficient time to do things properly, reduce stress, and promote productivity be sure to:
- Schedule about 10-20% more time than you think the task will require
- Set aside larger blocks of time for priorities
- Build extra time into your schedule when planning a new project.
The managers who accomplish the most know exactly what needs to be completed each day. They consider the time spent on planning to be an investment in effectiveness and success and understand that the tasks that need to be accomplished in any given day or week are more likely to be completed when time is taken to plan properly.