By Blair Koch
Have you ever really taken the time to figure out where you spend (or waste) your time? Time management is crucial to your success both in business and in life. Here are a few things you can try to get your arms around all that time that seems to escape you.
Track Where You Are Spending Your Time. Create a spreadsheet divided into 30-minute increments. Every day for the next month, track what you are doing in each of these 30-minute increments. This includes time spent chatting at the water cooler, commuting to and from work, working out at the gym, having family time, attending meetings, posting social media, reading articles - everything - for the entire day.
At the end of the 30 days, upon reviewing your spreadsheet, you will likely notice some telling patterns. What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing? Where can you combine activities (e.g. listening to podcasts while commuting) and what should you be doing that you aren’t? Take a look at your spreadsheet and see what adjustments you can make so that you can spend your time where you need to spend your time (and where you want to spend your time).
Calendar Blocking. The best way to ensure you are spending your time where you need to be is to schedule it and then honor that schedule. If sales and business development are part of your agenda, then block out time every day or week to focus solely on that area of your business. Spend time focusing on the “big rocks” that move your business forward. By blocking time on your calendar, the likelihood of getting distracted by all the noise decreases; and the opportunity of getting something done is much greater. And if for any reason you can't make one of these appointments with yourself, it is imperative that you reschedule it, just as you would with a customer or prospect.
Managing Time in Your Meetings. Starting and ending meetings late is the epitome of poor time management in the workplace. To combat this nuisance, be sure to send out an agenda ahead of time. A meeting agenda will inform participants what will be discussed so can come prepared. If your agenda and calendar invite (another example of calendar blocking) dictate that the meeting starts at 9:00 and ends at 9:30, then it is imperative that you honor this time frame. If by chance the meeting ends early, then great, you have found a few free minutes during the day. Model this behavior consistently to set the tone and expectations for how your entire team approaches and conducts their meetings.
These are just a few time management ideas to help you get your arms around your schedule and avoid time bankruptcy. Share your ideas for time management with us.