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Time Management

Effective Time Saving Tips and


Strategies for Every Employee
eBook by:
What is time A useful definition of time management might
be,

management? The ability to use one’s time effectively and


efficiently.

Now that’s sounds simple, right? If only


accomplishing our goals was truly simple, all
of us would likely be in better places both
personally and professionally. However, the
reality of our lives tends to create demands on
our time that get in the way of effective and
efficient uses of time.

A fact that is inescapable about time is that it is


finite. We simply cannot “manage” more time
out of our day or lives. A day comes and goes,
and no matter how much we’d like things to be
different, each day lasts only 24 hours.

Therefore, in a very real sense, we can never


“manage” time the way we manage other factors
that influence our success at home or at work.
We have to think about time differently if our
goal is to be more effective and more efficient.
Choice Management

The shift in thinking we need to make is to begin approaching failure, and it’s one all of us can and should avoid. We just have
time management as a challenge of “choice management.” to start making different choices.
Like we said, no matter what we do, each day contains only
24 hours, and time is not a renewable resource. Once a day is What are your professional and personal goals? Start there.
finished, we can’t get another one or do it over. What we choose If you are not sure what your goals are, take the time to think
to do with our time comes down to the priorities we establish about what you really care about, and what you want to
and the choices we make that are informed by those personal accomplish in your life. Once you know what your goals are, you
and professional priorities. can begin making decisions that help you take actions, day-by-
day, to achieve those goals.
Since time is fleeting, how do we make smart choices about
priorities? Recommended Resources from BizLibrary:

Let’s start with a difficult but important question. How are you
going to use the time that you have? This question reminds us of
an old joke about people who make things happen, people who
watch things happen and people who ask, “What happened?”

Which of these types of people are you today? Which would you
like to be? If the answers to these two questions are different, it Managing the Time of Your Life Part I
might be a good time to think about your choices and priorities. Managing the Time of Your Life Part II
One of the most disappointing things that can happen to any
person is to get to the later stages of their life or career, and
regret not doing things. That’s a classic “time management”
Decision Making
Stephen Covey’s decision making grid is a very useful tool
Stephen Covey’s Decision Making Grid
we can all use to help begin setting day-to-day priorities
and getting our busy lives organized.
Urgent Urgent
For those things that are important but not urgent, or
Not Important Important
urgent but not important, you simply have to make choices.
Which tasks will help you reach your goals? Those would
be the tasks to finish first, regardless of the quadrant.
Not Urgent Not Urgent
Then move to the next tier of tasks in each of these two
quadrants. Having your goals in mind and measuring tasks Not Important Important
to goals will always help make better choices.

This simple 4-square grid organizes tasks along a time axis and an
Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, there will always
importance axis.
be competing demands on your time. The real trick to
getting the most out of each day is to stay focused on
Just about everything we have to do on a daily basis falls into two
those things that are truly important and urgent, and help
broad categories by urgency, or time sensitivity, and importance. For
you realize your professional and personal goals. It’s very
tasks that are both urgent and important, we would plot those in the
difficult to make choices informed by your goals if you
upper right-hand quadrant. These are the things we would do first on
don’t have any. That’s why it’s so important to take the
any given day. Conversely, things that are neither important nor urgent
time to set both personal and professional goals and to
are plotted in the lower left hand quadrant. We can either choose
revisit them periodically to ensure your decision-making
not to do these things at all, or we can wait to even think about these
remains attuned to your current professional and personal
things any further.
needs and values.
Common Time Drains and Challenges
Working today requires us to navigate an ever-changing ever before and in more ways than ever before. Virtual
minefield of distractions and things that seem designed to meetings, social learning applications, e-mail, texts, the need
systematically drain the productivity out of each minute of our for continuous communication and collaboration all place ever
day. Okay, maybe it’s not really that bad, but it certainly feels like growing demands on our attention, time and energy. It can be
it many days. overwhelming, and it can get frustrating.


Here is a partial list of things we all manage every day:

• Meetings
• E-mail A life without stress can sometimes be a life without
• More with less significance. But how you interpret the body’s response
• Work/life balance makes all the difference. A lot of new research shows that
• Work or learn choices – time for training it’s possible to develop your self-awareness to the extent
• Ongoing interruptions that you can approach something in a positive way, that for
another person would be negatively stressful. Another person
There isn’t much anyone can do to radically alter the nature of might feel flooded or overwhelmed, but you can develop a
work. We are connected to each other in ways that nobody way to approach the data in a constructive manner.”
imagined ten or fifteen years ago. With mobile devices getting
more and more powerful, we are literally always a touch away Source: Dan Siegel, Author of Brainstorm: The Power And
from work. Purpose Of The Teenage Brain, featured in the article, Data
Overload and the Myth of Multi-Tasking

We are connected to colleagues at work more easily than


Common Time Drains and Challenges
Here are some specific strategies to gain a little more Have a clear agenda. Yes. Have one. And circulate the agenda
productivity from some common time wasting drains we all before the meeting. Planning a meeting is critical to every
encounter everyday. attendee getting something of value from the meeting, and it’s
critical to getting value from everyone attending. A key part of
the agenda or meeting plan is to explain the purpose. Here are a
Meetings few common examples:
How many wasteful and useless meeting have we attended?
The answer is probably, “a lot.” The characteristics of effective
Decisions. If the purpose of the meeting is to make a decision,
meetings are well-known, and the difference between useful
ensure that all of the key stakeholders are present. Also make
and constructive meetings and useless and wasteful meetings is
sure everyone has all of the information needed to make the
like night and day. Here are a few tips to ensure your meetings
desired decision before the meeting, this way the meeting can
are effective and useful:
be used to ask and answer questions and present the pros and
cons of reasonable alternatives.

Generate ideas. This is a great purpose, but great ideas generally


require great questions and problems. Make sure you’ve posed
a question or problem for everyone to consider at the meeting,
otherwise there is no context for the ideas you need.

Status reports. Like decision-making, you need to make sure


everyone who needs to make a report is present and that each
person is prepared. You also need to make sure each person
knows what their status report should include such as metrics,
comparable data points, etc.
Common Time Drains and Challenges
Informational. If the purpose is to inform others, make sure the scheduled the meeting and everyone understands the ground
communication is clear and concise and leave time for Q&A. rules ahead of time.

Making plans. The participants will be critical, so you want to Summarize and follow-up. At the conclusion of each agenda
include all of the key stakeholders and everyone with expertise item, quickly summarize the results and confirm what follow-
or information needed to make a successful plan. up steps are needed and make sure participants know who is
responsible for each follow-up task.
Use time wisely. If the meeting is scheduled for one hour,
end the meeting after one hour. Meetings that run long are Stand. When a meeting is short, try standing. Sitting down
inconvenient, cut into other productive time, and end up wasting can sap energy and get people into a “comfortable posture.”
time in many other ways. Standing is more energetic and can help energize meetings and
keep things moving. If you have a meeting agenda that can be
Maintain control. Everyone should have a chance to speak, covered in 10-15 minutes, try to run the meeting with everyone
but don’t let anyone dominate the conversation. Also, keep standing. You might be surprised at how much more engaged
comments on topic. Sometimes it’s good to designate a “traffic everyone can be when their energy level is a little bit elevated in
cop” to call a halt to tangents or off-topic conversations. a standing posture.

No outside devices. It’s tempting to bring tablets and cell Invitations. Invite only people who are really needed. Meetings
phones to meetings, but with these temptations come can be valuable, but you never want to bring anyone to a
distractions and needless interruptions. Keep everyone’s eyes meeting that isn’t truly necessary to the successful completion
up and focused on the conversation in the room. Now, there will of the goal of the meeting.
be times when people have legitimate needs to step away and
handle emergencies, but such situations should be rare if you’ve If you follow these tips, you will be able to reduce the time
wasted in meetings by quite a bit!
Common Time Drains and Challenges
E-mail Here are some ideas to help you manage your inbox a little more
E-mail is the communication vehicle of choice for everyone in effectively and efficiently.
business today. It’s easy, convenient and just about every other
business person in the world has an e-mail account. So what’s Select a time of day as “e-mail time.” We all have some important
the problem? How about 120+ e-mails per day? SPAM? Junk times during the day when we are essentially in transition. We
e-mail? Endless promotions? Newsletters you don’t remember arrive at work, and we have to make a mental transition from
subscribing to? Pointless messages from colleagues? In some commute or travel to the office setting. If we work at home,
ways, e-mail is a victim of its own success! we have to mentally and emotionally, transition from a home
mindset to work. We have a similar transition when we sit back
The reality is we all get too many e-mails in a day to reply to down after lunch. These transitional moments are excellent
all of them thoughtfully and effectively. Consequently, many times to open our inbox and respond to important e-mail
e-mails go unread, deleted or simply ignored. messages that require a timely reply.

If an e-mail needs more detailed attention, we can open the


window and save it, or forward to someone else for help.
The beauty of handling an e-mails like this is that we turn
low productivity time into useful time. We also get a, usually,
annoying task out of the way, clearing our mind to schedule
more important and urgent tasks.
Common Time Drains and Challenges
interruptions. You can use your
out-of-office notification to inform
people when you will be responding
to email during each day. These
little “interruptions” add up, as you
will see a bit later in this eBook.

Use your most productive time for


key tasks. Reading a long list of
email messages does not count
as productive work. If there are
important matters, move the email
to a “to-do” list for attention later.
Make sure that no matter when
you read over e-mail, you do so
during time in your day when you
are usually at your least productive.
For some people it’s right before
lunch when energy is low, or mid-
afternoon, or right before the
Turn off your e-mail program when you need to concentrate. The
end of the day. What you want to do is maximize the effort
little notice that tells you “you’ve got mail” might be convenient,
you apply to important and urgent tasks during your most
but it’s also distracting. Every time it pops up on your computer
productive times.
screen, it does exactly what it’s designed to do. It gets your
attention. Turn off your email program to reduce these needless
Common Time Drains and Challenges
Do More With Less new workplace reality creates:
Many executives use the phrase, “We’re going to have to do more
with less” as though it were simple and easy. We can’t really Get organized. The average US worker spends an average of
think of many employees who react to hearing “do more with 76 hours per year simply looking for things due to a messy
less” with quite the same level of enthusiasm. In fact, for most workspace or disorganized desk.* Average management
employees it’s a euphemism for more work, longer hours, higher employees lose as much as an hour per day looking for missing
expectations and lower pay. It’s frustrating and one of the most information.* So simply getting our physical workspace
demoralizing things managers and organizational leaders can say organized will help. Likewise, organizing our virtual workspace,
to employees. computer file folders and network drives, will also save time and
money. Make sure things are labeled intelligently and stored in
However, the cold hard reality of the workplace is that we logical places.
must accomplish more with fewer resources. It’s not optional.
Following the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009, a vast number
of mid-level management jobs disappeared, and these jobs are
simply not returning to the economy. Organizations are flatter The average US worker
with fewer layers of management and structure. While these
spends an average of 76
structural changes might have been painful for many people, the
alternate reality is that many organizations and the employees hours per year simply
that are now entering them benefited. Flatter organizations
looking for things.
are less bureaucratic, more innovative and more collaborative.
On top of the structural changes, advances and innovations in
* The Costs Associated with Disorganization, Study by Brother International
technology have also fed per employee increases in productivity.
* Contract Management Magazine

Here are a few things we can all do to cope with the stress this
Common Time Drains and Challenges
Keep a “to-do” list. Remember that Covey decision-making tool? Work/Life Balance
Use that tool to make a daily “to-do” list. Mark things off as you In this 24/7/365 connected world we inhabit, work/life balance
go. At the end of the day, place the important and urgent items almost seems like an old-fashioned, out-of-date concept. The
left undone on the next day’s list, and start again. Working your truth of the matter is that it may be more important than
way methodically and logically through a written list of tasks is a ever. Human beings are not hard-wired to be “on” 100% of
great way to maintain order in a chaotic world. the time. We are healthier, and by extension, more productive
and effective in every facet of our lives when we strike a good
Also, consider creating a “not to-do list.” The myth that if I work balance between our work lives and our personal lives. The
harder or do more my inbox, my to-do list, my plate...will be challenge for us today, is that work seems to creep into just
complete or empty. The reality it is that it isn’t going to happen. about every nook and cranny of time possible, and follows us
By creating a “not to-do list” you can either delegate tasks to everywhere we go in the form of our mobile devices, e-mail,
others that may be able to do things more efficiently and you texts and mobile apps that keep us informed about what’s
can focus on what is important. happening 24/7.

Ask for help and delegate. Some things can be done as well or This is where we simply have to make smart choices, and
even better by others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on those we have to keep our minds focused on our personal and
types of tasks and projects. One of the most important skills or professional goals. For example, if we are determined to reach
competencies a manager can master is delegation. Learning how senior leadership within the next 10 years, we will need to
to effectively delegate makes entire teams function at higher maintain our fitness, keep learning and acquiring new skills, meet
levels, and frees managers up to focus their productive energies new people, network and find higher levels of performance at
on those “important/urgent” tasks that really matter. work. That type of appropriate career goal requires the effective
blending of personal and professional effort to reach.
Common Time Drains and Challenges
We have to adopt some strategies to maintain a strong and
vibrant balance between our work lives and our home lives.
Here are few tips, and there are many more. You just have to find
the combination that works for you.

Unplug. When you are home, be truly at home and in the


moment. Leave work to work, and if you have to check e-mail or
voicemail, set times for it and stick to your commitment.

Exercise. Most of us can probably use a better level of fitness.


Make sure exercise is a regular part of your life. You’ll not only
feel better, but you’ll work better, too.

Eat healthy. It’s okay and perfectly fine to indulge sometimes.


But find ways to eat a healthy diet. Like exercise, it will pay off
in many ways both at home and at work in terms of energy and
well-being.

Read. Reading keeps the mind sharp and healthy. Find things to
read that are not work-related. Reading exposes you to new and
fresh ideas and keeps your sense of curiosity alive and well.
Common Time Drains and Challenges
Work or Learn profession and industry might be headed, we can learn the skills
An objection we frequently hear from clients about why their and acquire the knowledge needed to be relevant in a changing
learning programs struggle is that their employees or managers profession and industry.
think they don’t have time to take training or stop work to learn.
The objection is framed as though it’s a choice of either working Ask your self a question. Which colleague would you rather have
or learning. The problem with this line of thought, is that it’s a by your side? The colleague that doesn’t want to learn anything
false choice. new and that resists any change, or the colleague that stays
informed about new developments in your field and industry
and can help you stay up-to-date as things evolve and change?
“Work is learning and learning is work.” Which colleague is more valuable to you and your organization?
Harold Jarche That’s why the choice of working or learning is a false choice.
We really have no choice. We have to work and learn at the
It’s a false choice in today’s workplace, because everyone must same time. Employees that are continuous learners, relentlessly
be adaptable and agile or everyone risks becoming obsolete. The curious and determined to improve all of the time are the
only two things we can count on in this marketplace is change, employees organizations need for future success. The choice is
and that the pace of change is going to accelerate. We have ours. Do nothing. Or do something.
choices. Funny how choices keeps popping up as a theme, isn’t
it? We only need a few minutes a day to learn new things. Micro-
learning and video, delivered on mobile devices is the new
One option is to do nothing. We can stay in our current job at normal for employee learning. So unlike the old-fashioned
our current level of performance with our current knowledge eLearning of the last century, employees don’t have to be
base. Another option is to take learning seriously and find tethered to their desks to learn new skills and acquire the
out what is happening in our industry and profession. When knowledge they need to be successful. Everything they need can
we know about the latest trends and where the future of our be accessed in their pocket and at their fingertips.
7 Keys to Winning the Time Management Battle
1. Plan ahead playing with apps on our phones. Spend a week making a journal
of the way you spend time each day. Be honest, too. You will
2. Unplug likely be surprised at the amount of time you spend in front
3. Communication/set expectations of one screen or another. Take time to unplug every day and
separate yourself from the web. It’s healthy and necessary to
4. Decision making maintain good relationships with the people around you. Think
5. Embrace breaks carefully about your personal and professional goals, and think
about how the time you spend connected might be applied
6. Minimize distractions towards fulfilling one or more of those goals.
7. Self-awareness
3. Communicating/Set Expectations. It’s simply not possible to
1. Plan ahead. Of all of the keys to winning, this one may be the respond instantly to everyone who would like an instant reply.
single most important. This simple step towards a higher level of That’s particularly true of e-mail and voicemail. Therefore,
organization can make a massive impact on the effective use of manage the expectations of the people trying to reach you by
your time. Planning your next day before you leave work helps letting them know when to expect a reply. Set up automatic
you make a clean break from work for the day. You can leave e-mail responses telling people you will get back within a
knowing exactly what is ahead, and you can leave work knowing business day. With voicemail, tell people the truth. You don’t
exactly what you got accomplished during your busy day. reply to unsolicited sales calls, and other calls will be answered
as you can and no later than a business day, or whatever
2. Unplug. We mentioned this briefly as a strategy to maintaining makes sense for you. It doesn’t really matter as long as you set
a good work/life balance. But unplugging goes beyond expectations and then meet them.
maintaining a healthy balance. We spend an inordinate amount
of time in front of screens everyday. It’s easy to burn hours a
day surfing the web, engrossed in something on our tablets or
7 Keys to Winning the Time Management Battle
4. Decision making. One of the biggest time drains we encounter or project until you finish.
over and over is the time it takes to make decisions. Don’t let
paralysis by analysis become your routine. Accept the fact 7. Self-Awareness. This may seem like something straight out of
that you will rarely have all of the information you’d ideally like emotional intelligence, and it is! But self-awareness is important
before you need to act. Learn to act. And likewise, learn to make for productivity and time management, too. We mentioned a
adjustments as new information comes to light. Many times couple of times how important setting personal and professional
it’s important to simply take action while being ready to make goals can be for decision-making and making sure you have your
appropriate adjustments. priorities in mind as you decide which tasks are most important.

5. Embrace breaks. People who take regular breaks every 90 These concepts require a degree of self-awareness about what
minutes or so are significantly more productive than their peers motivates you and what doesn’t. It’s especially important to
who do not. Human minds and bodies work best in rhythms of understand why some things are motivating and some things
activity and rest. So embrace this physical reality and get up and are not. We tend to be highly productive when we are working
move around! In the end, those few minutes you take to keep in areas where we are strong. Working to our strengths tends
your energy high will result in more productivity and a better to be motivating and leads to higher levels of engagement and
use of time throughout the day. productivity.

6. Minimize distractions. One of the great myths about time That’s the essence of time management – getting the most out
management is that we can multi-task. It’s not true. It’s simply of our time. So we want to be engaged in work and tasks that
false! We are hard-wired physiologically to do one thing at a are meaningful to us and will help us reach our personal and
time. It’s important to reduce the number of things tugging professional goals. That means, we must understand who we
at our attention at any given time so we can concentrate on are, what we want and what we need at any given time in every
one thing at a time. The key is to get yourself into a physical, facet of our lives.
emotional and mental place where you can focus on a single task
Making Better Choices with Our Time
There is an old saying that if you want to get something done, give it to a
busy person. There is some wisdom in that. Busy people have a knack for ABOUT BIZLIBRARY
completing things, and its usually because they know how to get the most
BizLibrary is a leading provider of online
productive use of their time. That’s getting harder and harder to do given employee training and eLearning solutions.
the sheer volume of information coming at us today, from so many sources The BizLibrary Collection is an award-
and at such a rapid pace. But we don’t have a choice to switch all of it off. winning content collection, and contains
The information “overload” is going to continue unabated. What we can thousands of online videos and eLearning
courses covering every business training
control is how we respond. topic, including: communication skills,
leadership and management, sales and
And therein lies the key to successful time management. It’s all about customer service, compliance training,
successful choices. It starts with making good choices about our goals, desktop computer skills, and more.
both personal and professional. With these goals set and then re-evaluated The BizLibrary Collection can be accessed
periodically, we can make informed judgments (choices) on a day-to-day online through BizLibrary’s Learning
basis about the things we need to accomplish that move us incrementally Management System (LMS) or through
closer to achieving our goals. Focus on the things that are important based any third-party LMS. Technology solutions
include: BizLibrary’s Learning Portal, Content
upon our goals, and things that are urgent based upon the time sensitivity of Management System, LMS , and BizLibrary
the task. Mobile App to help clients improve and
manage employee learning across the entire
There will always be multiple demands on our time, but we need to have organization.
a framework for assessing what we can and cannot do. Having a set of
personal and professional goals we are determined to achieve helps set a
decision-making framework we can use to make the best possible use of our
time.