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15 Timely Tips to Better Manage Your Time

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Intro
In this article, Tracey talks from personal experience about the importance of time management and offers some practical tips to help you achieve greater Personal Effectiveness.

 


Do you feel like you don't have enough time to do everything you want to? Would you like to be more productive? I don't know anyone who wouldn’t reply "yes" to both of these questions!

Time management skills are especially important for nutritionists and dietitians who often run small businesses and find themselves performing many different activities during the course of a single day. 

Organisational skills don't come naturally to everyone. They didn’t for me, but as someone who runs a small business, has two young children, enjoys exercise and a busy social life, I have learnt to get better at managing my time out of necessity. You can too, with the following time management tips that will help boost your Personal Effectiveness and get the most out of your busy days, as well as delivering health benefits by minimising stress and improving the quality of your life.

1.     Prioritise

Since you will never be able to do everything you want to do, learn to prioritise what you need to do and don’t stress about the rest. Apply the 80/20 principle and spend 80% of your time on the 20% of your activities that are truly important.

2.     Create a daily plan

Organise your day before it unfolds. Do it first thing in the morning or, even better, the night before. Be clear on the most important activities you want to achieve and ensure enough time is dedicated to each. You will get a greater 'return' from the 20 minutes you spend planning your coming day than almost any other activity, so be disciplined and do it without fail.

3.     Time-box activities 

Set appropriate time limits for each activity. This will help your prioritisation and goal setting each day, and prevent your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities. A great place to start is with reading and answering emails which can consume your whole day if you let it. Instead, set a limit of one hour per day - in two thirty minutes slots - and stick to it.

4.     Respect real deadlines

Be clear on deadlines and prioritise accordingly. Some activities will have a fixed deadline (meeting a client or pitching a new business opportunity) while others will be more flexible (eg. new local area marketing activity, database management) - prioritise the former to avoid a last minute rush (and stress) to get work done. Test deadlines to understand the real situation - people asking for things will often say 'now' when 'in the next few days’ would be perfectly acceptable. 

5.     Block out distractions

People are more productive when they can properly focus without interruption so block out anything that might distract you. This could include switching off your phone; not having emails or text messages constantly popping up; turning off Facebook, other forms of social media and even tabs in your browser unless you specifically need them for the task in hand.

6.     Eliminate "time wasters" 

Many of us engage in activities that take away time we could be using more productively eg. surfing the Internet, catching up on Facebook, reading emails, or watching tv. Be honest with yourself in identifying which ones apply to you, then commit to reducing or eliminating these, one at a time.

7.     Learn to say "no"

"No" is a simple word but sometimes can be very hard to say. Think about how often you've agreed to do something then wished you hadn't later because it has created time pressure  - and stress - for you. Learn to say 'No', politely, and constructively and you will definitely get more time back.

8.     Keep a ‘smart’ to do list

A paper-based list is not the best way to manage your many tasks and you will feel daunted looking at the same long list day after day. Use electronic organisers such as Reminders or Wunderlist (free app) where you can organise 'to do’s’ by logical dates so you always keep to a manageable number of tasks each day,

9.     Batch similar tasks together

For similar activities batch them together. I mentioned email earlier. Returning calls are another example, as well as the myriad of little admin tasks that seem to pile up every week. Set aside an hour or two in your calendar each week for “admin” and knock them all over at once.

10.  Diarise everything! 

Using a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. Don’t just schedule meetings, also include appointments with yourself for “thinking” time, responding to emails, managing batches of “to –do’s”, as well as exercise and recreation time. Any activity that's important to you should have a calendar entry assigned to it or the chances are you either won't get to it, or won’t do it productively. Have the discipline to keep these appointments, and sync your calendar to your phone and tablet so you can access anytime, anywhere.

11.  Optimise your work environment

Review your work environment and ensure it helps you be efficient and effective. Organise electronic files logically on your computer so you can easily access the information you need. Do the same with paper files  - but question whether you even need the paper in the first place! Keep your work-space tidy and keep all paperwork filed away unless you're working on it.

12.  Learn to delegate and/or outsource

No matter how small your business, there's no need to be a one-person show. If there are things that can be better done by other people or that are not so important, consider delegating and/or outsourcing. This takes a load off and you can focus on the more important tasks. There are countless websites dedicated to people who want to outsource tasks that can be done from anywhere in the world (eg Elance) or where a physical presence is needed on site (eg Airtasker).

13.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time

When you have really big tasks to accomplish – the elephant to eat – don’t just sit there feeling daunted and not knowing where to start. Break your work down into manageable chunks and tackle it one feasible piece at a time. Celebrate each little step and stay focussed on the end goal. Before you know it, you will have eaten the whole elephant!

14.  Take breaks

Don’t skip breaks to get more done. Everybody needs breaks to rest and re-energise. So when you need a break, take one. Go for a walk. Do some stretching. Discover what best works for you, and do it.

15.  Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly!

Last but not least, as nutritionist and dietitians you should practise what you preach. Sleep, diet and exercise will all help improve your focus and concentration making you more productive as you power through your work in less time!

 

So there you go…15 practical and timely tips to boost your Personal Effectiveness and give you back your more precious commodity…time.

To help you get started, choose one or two of the above tips. Try them for a few weeks and see if they help. If they do, consider adding a few more. If not, try some different ones.

Above all, establish routines and stick to them as much as possible. Remember that it's impossible to get everything done so learn to live with that fact and make the most of the time you do have!

As always, we love to hear your feedback so if you have any comments on the above, or great tips of your own, please share them below.

Comments

Marika Heblinski

Thanks!

Great article, Tracey! My biggest trouble is number 6. When time get's really limited I have to skip the social media, which are an important tool to connect these days.
By: Marika Heblinski
Posted on: 2013-11-26 16:03:03
15 Timely Tips to Better Manage Your Time
Tracey Emney: Founder and CEO n4 food and health
Author:
Tracey Emney: Founder and CEO n4 food and health