Time management: 5 tips to help make 2022 more productive and enjoyable.
The last two years have had a significant impact on the Scottish economy as business owners adopted new ways of working, embraced technology and navigated their work/life balance. Implementing successful and efficient time management strategies will continue to be essential for organisations to remain flexible, resilient and to thrive in 2022.
Time management should not only be about tasks but include time for reflection, CPD, planning and self-care all scheduled in the same way as meetings. Including ‘contingency time’ to help mitigate against unpredicted demands and interruptions, will minimise disruption to plans.
In January we often explore solutions to make the coming year more efficient but before designing your plan or purchasing a ‘Time Management’ app it is important to understand your behaviour and how to manage or change your habits accordingly.
How do you usually approach a deadline? Do you action as soon as possible to tick it off your ‘To Do’ list or prefer to think about it, drafting plans, reviewing and refining several times before finally actioning? Or do deadlines help focus your mind and deliver your best work?
If your habit is to leave tasks to the last-minute consider how best to manage others e.g. colleagues, suppliers or managers to ensure you have all the information/product you need in time to complete the task. If you overthink everything and find it hard to complete, remember striving for perfection can have the opposite effect and make you less productive and more stressed when deadlines arrive. If you always deliver early, incorporate reminder systems in your planning to ensure that you follow-up once the deadline has passed.
Understanding your habits will enable you to design a time management system that works for you and that you are more likely to maintain.
Here are 5 tips to help make 2022 more productive and enjoyable.
- Identify what problem you are trying to solve
Determine the elements or people that distract or impact most on your plans by recording everything you do over a week in a diary or spreadsheet. Then address the biggest challenge(s) with the most appropriate solution or change to your routine. If you are managing multiple tasks explore project management tools but also consider simpler solutions such as reminders on your phone or email system. When researching solutions consider if they bring additional benefits e.g. Cloud accounting packages not only simplify your tax return but also give real-time visibility of your business’ financial health.
- Get Organised
How often are your interruptions from someone asking for information and how much time do you spend retrieving the details? Design a system that works for you based on your personal preferences for learning and delivery. Will visual, auditory or written solutions work best for you?
Again, keep it simple- a consistent and easily remembered system for naming saved files, using bookmarks or apps to find websites you use regularly or a password vault to keep all your access details secure and in one place can reduce frustration and increase productivity.
Consider creating templates within these systems or on your website to streamline the collection of information from a customer or supplier.
- Say No
Requests and demands from customers, colleagues and family often have the biggest impact on time management. If you can’t say no then be clear about deadlines and how urgent the request really is. If you agree to an additional task, what can you drop or reschedule to accommodate the change?
- People centred solutions
Recognise your least favourite tasks and consider subcontracting or getting colleagues to help. Learn from experts through TED talks, podcasts and books. Look after your physical and mental wellbeing by including blocks of time to exercise or engage with others. Access a business mentor to help keep you focussed on your goals and hold you accountable for your plans.
Most importantly the key to a fulfilling, stress-free day is to be a good communicator. Keeping your colleagues, suppliers or customers informed on what you are doing and when, will reduce the times you are interrupted by questions about your progress. Providing clear information on your services or processes will help manage everyone’s expectations from the outset.
Merle Palmer is Deputy CEO of GrowBiz, Scotland a charity providing free one-to-one support, networking opportunities, learning sessions and an award-winning mentoring programme to microenterprises in rural Scotland.