Here are some useful tips to help you manage your time

1. Time Activity Log

Often time slips away without us knowing it. So a useful exercise is to identify where exactly time goes. One way to do this is by using the Time Activity Log to track the time you spend. The idea being that you print off a copy and jot down your activities and how long they take. It is important to write down EVERYTHING, especially the unplanned activities.

To complete this simply download the document from selecting a link below (this opens in a new window)

spreadsheet Time activity log (excel) (665 KB)

document Time activity log (word) (690 KB)

Having completed this exercise review the activities that take up most of your time. The next stage is to prioritise your activities and consider if you are using your time most effectively. NB: We realise you could always use the excuse that you don’t have enough time to complete this activity! Don't delay do it today!!

2. Keep ONE up to date diary/calendar

Whether you use an electronic or paper calendar or diary, make sure it is up to date. And stick to ONE complete diary for both work and play! All too often we see people flicking between 2 or 3 diaries on paper, on a device, their laptop, post it notes to boot! Find ONE system and get everything into it if you really want to manage your time more effectively. This would include private and work appointments, for the whole week and not just the working week. After all no point booking in a meeting that clashes with important family events.

3. Prioritise your life!

Life is not a rehearsal, so make sure you have a clear idea of the real priorities in your life. At this point in your week it may be that project deadline, however what about building in time for your development, 'tips from resourcily!!', birthdays, nativity productions, health, coaching and planning. Consider work and personal goals in prioritising.

What is pressing this month, will likely be forgotten this time next year. Work out what are your priorities this month, within 6 months and the next year. Do this on a work and life basis.

4. Do not over commit

Considering the Time Activity Log and your up coming priorities ensure you do not over commit. Leave yourself TIME in your calendar to prepare and plan. Ensure you have a balance of work and personal commitments.

5. Use your diary to plan

Using your up to date diary (see point 2 above) continuously review upcoming event and appointments. Get into the habit of looking 2 to 3 weeks ahead, that way you can more effectively plan. Having personal and work events in the same place will help this process.

6. Identify your PRIME time slots

Some people work better in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some the evening. By identifying your PRIME time you can plan activities to suit. For example my PRIME time is morning up till 1100, I then get a second wind around 1500 till 1700. It is in these 2 slots I plan tasks which involve thinking and my utmost attention.

7. Group similar tasks together

When you look at the tasks you have to do, group similar tasks together. For example if you have a number of calls to make plan in a slot of say 45 minutes into your diary to do this. The same works for emails and dealing with post/in-tray.

8. Identify the KEY time for you to complete regular tasks

Considering your PRIME time you can then slot in time slots in your diary which are the KEY time to complete certain tasks. It may be that a Monday afternoon straight after lunch is the KEY time for the team meeting, or a Tuesday afternoon is the best to make some sales calls. A Friday afternoon conversely may be a bad time to plan time to hold a 1-2-1. You can us the time Activity Log to help you identify both PRIME and KEY time.

9. Adopt a 'one touch approach'

Adopt a 'one touch approach' to handling mail, missed calls and emails. For example if you read an email deal with it straight away - either SAVE, FORWARD, or REPLY as opposed to mark it to deal with later. It's amazing how many unanswered emails we can gain in a few days. Touch things once and deal with them rather than keep picking them up and not actioning.

10. Create breathing space between meetings

Why not book in things into your diary longer than they actually take to ensure you have at least a 20 minute breathing space between meeting slots. This is especially important where other people have access to your electronic diary. For example for a 9 till 10am meeting book time in you diary as 0850 - 1015. This has 2 effects. (1). It gives you time to plan before and after the meeting. (2). It prevents people booking in back to back meetings for you!

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About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!