Here are practical, easy-to-apply techniques that will help. Once the initial, analytical stage is completed, the techniques outlined here are simple ones that can be applied on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, as a matter of routine.

Preparation Week: the first step is the most time-consuming one: analyzing your current situation. To establish in what condition your management of time is at this moment, you will need to complete at least a week, perhaps two, of preparation. You will also need to make note of any activities that fall on a monthly basis, such as team meetings, or budget performance reviews.

Recording Your Activity: for one week at least, on a daily basis, you will need to keep a detailed record, diary, or log, of what activities you are involved in, and how long you spend on each of these. Be as detailed as you can, so that you can analyze your activities in depth. The experts in the time-management field recommend that you split your day into at least 15 minute periods and for very busy periods even smaller time periods of 5 or 10 minutes.

Analyzing Your Activity: at the end of this period, you will need to carefully analyze these records. The primary aim is to identify negative activities and events. These will include activities that you shouldn’t be involved in or could delegate, activities that you are spending too long on activities that are unproductive and events which are disruptive or unproductive. Some of the activities that you identify here will be unique to your situation, but some will be common to most professionals, such as being inappropriately interrupted by colleagues, by telephone calls aimed at others, by attending meetings that are not relevant to you, by surfing on the internet, by focusing on low-priority tasks instead of more important, but more difficult, ones. However, it is also important to identify the positive activities and events, so that you can consider how appropriate is the time that you are currently allocating to these. Examples could be how much time you are spending in supporting, or coaching, your team members, or how much time you are giving to the building and maintaining of relationships with others, or how much time you are spending on addressing quality management issues. With a clear picture of how you are spending your time, you can then move on to the next step.

Talk with YOUR Stakeholders: these are the colleagues, the teams, the managers, perhaps suppliers, perhaps customers, who have a legitimate interest in how you perform at work and who will be affected by the changes that you will be making. You may also need to arrange a discussion with key individuals before you take the next few steps that follow – next week.

Gloria-Jean Brown

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“Timed Productivity” – Back to Basics (Time Management) Part 1, Thursday, 4 March 2021.