As someone who wears many hats, it is important that I manage my time effectively. Failure to do so can throw all my plans off schedule and make things messy for me. I've found that applying the following tips have assisted me in having a productive day. Check them out; I know they can help you too!
1- Quit procrastinating! - Trust me, the longer you take to do a task is the longer it will take to get done. Before I got my time management skills together, I could easily waste an entire day doing little or nothing of consequence. What a crappy feeling I would get at the end of the day when I thought of the little I had accomplished. The worst part of it would come when I thought of all I had to do the next day and still catch up on work from the day before. Don't waste time, just dig in and get it done!
2- Set goals and targets - I've personally found that if I set timed goals it becomes very hard for me to play hooky or slack off. Knowing that you have a goal or objective you are working towards makes it hard to waste time when you think of all that you need to accomplish.
3- Network sensibly - Let's be honest; for those of us in business it is sometimes hard to get by without networking, unless you have tons of referrals that you can rely on. Whilst networking is good, you don't need to become a member of every association, forum or group out there. Choose wisely. Your time may be better spent networking in groups and forums that are close to your niche. Too many times I've seen people networking with groups that they stand to derive little or no benefit from. Network sensibly.
4- Write it down -To do lists are great. Always make a note of the things you have to do and the time you intend to spend doing those things. Don't rely on your memory! Put it on paper or make a note on your computer so that you can refer to it at a later date. When writing down the things you need to do, keep your list in one place. Writing on post it notes or the back of the closest book you can put your hands on is not effective. Write it down in one place that you know you will always refer to when needed. I can't tell you how many times I've missed appointments because I had too many day planners and they were not all updated! Stick to one source and eliminate the confusion.
5- Delegate or outsource - Don't try to do everything on your own. It can leave you overwhelmed and tired at the end of the day. Why not delegate to others whose time may be better spent doing some of the things that you personally don't need to do so that you can focus on doing what you do best?
6- Be objective - At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, why waste time pursuing unrealistic goals? It would not be wise for me to get up tomorrow and decide I wanted to be a neurosurgeon and start pursuing this dream. I'm just not wired for that sort of thing. I'm not saying don't have dream, I'm just saying be objective. We all know ourselves and what is attainable to us based on our time, skills, passions and training. Similarly, don't make up a list with 40 things you want to get done by the end of the day and when you know that you can only manage to get 12 things on your list properly done before you call it a day. Doing this will only cause frustration and why would you want to kid yourself?
7- Don't be afraid to say, 'I'm busy' - When I realized I had an issue managing my time effectively I had to make some changes in the way I communicated with others during the day. Messenger services and chatting on the phone can steal your precious time. Now, once I'm working, I change my status on the different messenger programs I use to let others know I would rather not be bothered now. I also found that screening my calls helped as well.
8- Just say 'No" -It's quite all right to say 'no'. This is sometimes hard to do but in all honesty, being able to say no is a skill you will have to acquire if you want to take control of your time. Just as you can't be all things to all people, you can't be everywhere, or do everything that may be requested of you. Something's got to give if you want to be able to look back at the end of the day and feel pleased in what you managed to accomplish.
Carlana Charles is the Principal of Ciboney Virtual Solutions, a Virtual Assistant practice that specializes in customer service consulting and support, marketing, office management and administration. Armed with over 13 years experience in different fields of business she prides Ciboney Virtual Solutions as being client-focused and solutions-driven. To learn more about Ciboney Virtual Solutions, visit http://www.ciboneyvirtual.com