More Tips on How to Improve Time Management

. Meetings

- focus on improving meeting processes

- get agreement on how to improve meeting processes

- review meetings' necessity

- make meeting purpose explicit

- justify the need for group decisions as opposed to individual decision-making and accountability

- look for alternatives to meetings for getting things done

Remember: time can't be controlled, can't be stopped and can't create more of it but we can make better use of it.

Most meetings are inefficient, eg not a lot gets accomplished, attend meetings that they don't need to be at or have repeat meetings because a regional meeting was ineffective

The 5 key questions to improving meetings (HeadScratcher, 2017)

  1. i) What is the purpose of the meeting and what is the expected outcome? (is the purpose to solve a problem, provide information, and general discussion, etc? Is the outcome a list of discoveries, solution or knowledge sharing, etc?)
  2. ii) Who should be invited to the meeting and why? (each person should know why they are invited, including what their contribution should be so that they can come prepared and play the appropriate role)
  3. iii) Can the purpose of the meeting be accomplished without having a meeting? (answers to i) & ii) will determine whether other forms of communications might be more suitable than a meeting, like e-mail, text, etc)
  4. iv) Develop a plan with action items that have ownership, are clear, achievable, etc? (determine what follow-up is required)
  5. v) How do you measure the success of the meeting? (by measuring there is a better chance of focusing on the meeting's goals. measurement might include

- Did we accomplish that goal(s)?

- Were the right people at the meeting?

- Was a meeting necessary?

- Is there a defined follow-up, ie action plan?

Or alternatively ask the following questions with yes/no answers

- Was the goal of the meeting clear?

- Did the meeting accomplish that goal?

- Was my presence in the meeting worth it?

- Is the next step after the meeting clear?

It is estimated that following the above process can reduce meeting times by 25% and make them more effective (HeadScratcher, 2017)

. E-mails

- the aim is to handle each e-mails only once. Achieve this by discarding or delegating or doing (now) or dating (when you will do it), drawering (immediately filed) or deterring (from returning to you again).

- ideally you should only look at e-mails 3 times a day, ie first thing in the morning, around lunchtime and then at the end of the working day. More frequent looking at e-mails should only occur if an urgent message is expected.

. Desk work

- rate all tasks and activities according to the urgent vs. important grid, ie the urgent and important; important but not urgent; the urgent but not important; not urgent and not important

- if it helps, use descriptive tags that emphasize the meaning of the rating, ie

A = absolute priority;

B = neglected essentials;

C = trivial hot potatoes;

D = time wasters

- review why you are doing anything with a D rating

- prioritise first with the ABCD rating, and then prioritize numerically each item within each rating to generate a sequence for tackling tasks

- eliminate double-handling of paperwork, ie use BARF (bin, act, refer, file) system of 4 action options that relate to any piece of paper that comes your way

- deal faster with the paperwork by changing how it is handled, ie change from letter to memo; from memo to e-mail; from e-mail to phone call

- prioritize further as it suits your style:

i) today before tomorrow

ii) strategic before operational

iii) easy before hard

iv) cheap before expensive

v) facts before opinions

vi) customers before others

vii) permanent fix before temporary fix

vii) big impact before small impact

. Activities that happen in other people's offices

- stay in your office unless you have a reason to go elsewhere

- remember the impact on others of you visiting them

- list productive things that require you to go elsewhere (if something crops up that is not on that list, delay it or don't do it or, as last resort, add it to the list )

- make scheduled visits only

- put limits on the time spent with others

- maximise time use with key people by using agendas and checklists

- technology can help. For example, apps are is now available to track how you spend your time.

There are 2 main reasons people are using  this technology:

i) self-reflection (internal curiosity and personal observation)

ii) self-optimisation (reflect on your time in order to improve your time management)
(source: Sarah Manavis 2019)

An important part of time management is learning to say 'no' and 'delegating'; at the same time, need to give reasons, ie explain why

(sources: Andrew Short, 2002; Brian Greedy, 2003; Gary Stix, 2002; Time Power, 1994; Harry Onsman, 2004b; Piers Dudgeon, 2001; Harry Onsman, 2004d; Edgar Schein, 2004; Toddi Gutner, 2008 Cass Sunstein, 2014)

 

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