Are you the type of person who follows the rules, or do you go out and do your own thing? Sometimes, it is admirable and a good idea to go against the grain. Thinking outside of the box can be very beneficial and it can set you apart. However, other times, you really do need to follow the rules for your own good. That’s the case when it comes to time management. If you want to have any chance of keeping on top of your schedule without building your stress levels and going insane, then you do not want to break any of the following rules. If you do, you will suffer the consequences. You will find that these rules apply to work, but most can apply to your personal life as well.
Do Not Take Too Many Meetings
You want to accommodate everyone, and you want to make sure that you get all of the information you need out to your employees. However, if you are the type of person who holds daily meetings, or several meetings a day, you are working against yourself. Every meeting you have is time that you and your employees are not actually working. Do yourself a favor and limit the meetings. Consolidate the things you need to discuss, and cut down on each meeting time. If you have half hour meetings, cut them down to fifteen minutes whenever you can, or combine two meeting topics into one and keep the half hour length.
Also do not schedule back-to-back meetings. When you schedule back-to-back meetings you are practically guaranteeing that the next meeting will start late. Some companies compound this lateness throughout the day, and by mid-afternoon meetings are starting 30+ minutes late.
Do Not Freely Answer Your Phone
Your phone is a great tool, but it is also a huge distraction. Whether you are answering the phone or sending texts, it is generally a waste of time. This is very true when it comes to personal messages that can wait. However, even work calls, if they are unnecessary, can waste time. Set aside certain times of the day that you will take and make your work calls. Only take your personal calls on breaks or at lunch. It might surprise you just how much time you save.
Do Not Keep Checking Your Email
Another rule of time management you do not want to break involves the constant checking of your email. Yes, you want to be on top of things. However, you do not want to get to the point where you are checking your email every fifteen minutes. Even though it only takes a couple of seconds, if you are doing this all day, it adds up and it becomes a real distraction. Just as with your phone, set aside certain times of the day when you can check your email. Email is not intended to be instant communication. Rather, check it morning, noon, and close of day.
Do Not Keep Surfing the Web
Let’s not get off the subject of tech quite yet. When you have access to the Internet, it’s easy to let this become a real distraction. This is true whether you are using the web on your phone or on your computer. Checking social networks, YouTube, and shopping can take far more time than you realize. When at work, or trying to accomplish anything, make sure that you turn off the web browsers and put away your phone so the temptation is not there.
Do Not Have a Cluttered Area
Working in a cluttered space is counterproductive. Clutter can make the brain work more slowly at a subconscious level. People love order and hate chaos, even though they don’t know this on the surface. If you are trying to work in a messy and cluttered area, you will find that it actually becomes rather difficult to get things done on time.
By spending just a few minutes organizing your area each day, you’ll keep it clutter free, and you will actually be able to work better and more efficiently.
Do Not Rush
When you rush, you will make mistakes. Even if you think you are thorough, rushing leads to missing things and making errors. This means you will need to go back through and do the job again, so you will have to spend nearly double the time that it would take to complete the project. By slowing down and taking things one step at a time, you could avoid this.
Do Not Skip Making a List
No matter how organized you might think you are, if you do not have a list that lets you know what you have to do, and what is the most important, you will find that you flounder. A list gives you something on which you can focus and place your energy. It lets you know what you have, and it keeps everything in order. As mentioned earlier, people crave order. If you have a list, you’ll find that your stress levels are typically lower as well.
Do Not Multitask
One of the big mistakes that so many people make when it comes to managing their time is breaking the rule of multitasking. Even though it might seem as though you should get more done when you work on several things at once, it is not the case. You may start more projects, but you will not usually finish them. Many people suffer from this problem, particularly writers and artists. They have a number of great ideas that they start, but they never finish because the next idea seems even more exciting. They think they can work on both, or more, at once, but that’s not feasible, at least for most people.
Do Not Make Things Too Complex
Managing your time does not have to be difficult, so do not make it more complex than it needs to be. You don’t need to stop living and enjoying life just to become more efficient either. Find a good time tracking software tool that will help you keep good track of your time, use the tool regularly, and follow the rest of the rules in this article.
No one can be “on” all the time. If you don’t unplug from your work and devices, you will burn out. Make sure you have clear boundaries between your work and personal life.
Not Allocating Enough Time for Tasks
As a general rule of thumb, tasks will take about 2X as much time as you estimate. For tasks that you are performing for the first time,make that 4X’s as long.
Too Many Tools in Your Toolkit
If you have too many tools in your time management toolkit, then you are creating unneeded complexity. This leads to confusion, searching for information (which app did I put that in?) and redundancy. Keep things simple and follow the The Power of One when it comes to your tools.
Not Looking at Your List
Many people make lists only to find them later in a drawer or buried on their desk. Make sure to keep your list front-and-center. Visibility leads to action.
Not Taking Deadlines Seriously
There is a reason why they were once called deadlines. Yet, in most organizations they are more like suggestions. By not taking deadlines seriously, you will cost yourself time, money, and opportunities. One more thing, you’re not helping yourself by extending those deadlines.
As long as you don’t break these simple rules, you will be in good shape when it comes to your time management skills.