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iManage, Issue #008 -- Do you wish you could get more done? 3 Steps to tackling Time Wasters
March 03, 2010


Are these Time Wasters holding YOU Back?

Do you start the day with great intentions, but often feel that you have nothing done by the end of the day? You could be affected by time wasters that stop you from making progress.

To find the extent of the problem, complete a time analysis. Log what you do every half hour, for three consecutive days at work. Then take a helicopter view and identify your problem areas. Draw a line in the sand and commit to making a change.

Here are three common time wasters and steps to deal with them.

Step 1: Other People?

Maybe you have learned some time management tips already. You know that you need to schedule your week ahead. You keep a daily To Do list which focuses on the urgent and important tasks. BUT what if other people come along and mess up your plans?

If your manager has a habit of interrupting you at a moment's notice, their own time management may be poor. Suggest meeting with them on a regular basis so you can go through the work plan for the period ahead. If they want you to do something urgently, ask them what existing task should be dropped. If they see you as being organised and having a well thought out plan, they may be less likely to interrupt you.

If your colleagues have a habit of making demands on your time when you are busy, don't be afraid to say "no". Explain that you are busy with a task. Politely suggest another course of action for them. Or agree to meet them later (by which time they are likely to have got themselves sorted).

If your time is wasted by people dropping by for a casual chat, get rid of any comfy chairs in your workspace. It is very hard to get someone to leave your workspace when they are sitting comfortably! Stand up when they arrive, and if necessary, walk them to the coffee machine or water cooler, where you can politely make excuses and leave.

Step 2: Things that go Ring and Ping

Ideally, make as many of your phone calls at the one time in the day as you can. Dividing your day into blocks gives you more control. Learn to put your phone on voicemail when you have something important to do. And bringing your work mobile phone home in the evening is not recommended! You don't have to be instantly available to everyone. People will soon get used to a situation where you are only available at certain times of the day.

Check your emails no more than three times a day, and switch off those email alerts. If you stop what you are doing to check an email, it could take you 15 minutes to get back to where you left off with your task.

Step 3: You?

So maybe YOU are the problem? Do you look for opportunities to go for coffee when you should be working? Set yourself short term deadlines to get you focused. Decide on small rewards for when you get that task done. If necessary, change your work environment to a place where you are less distracted and more focused.

Do you procrastinate? Do you put off starting that important task? Ask yourself what is stopping you. Sometimes we harbour deep seated fears, for example, of failure, or of being ridiculed by others, or simply of change. So find out what is stopping you and decide to tackle it.

Download the Time Management Audio Guide and Workbook for more in-depth advice on time management in the workplace and at home.

Click on Time Management Tips to find out more on my website.

Ann Halloran

Practical management skills advice for business owners and managers. Get best practice tips on a wide range of topics such as time management, motivation, communication skills, presentation skills, performance appraisal and more.

Content based on 30 years management/consultancy experience gained in a wide range of business sectors. If you would like to find out more, feel free to Contact Me.

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