The press and television always highlight the irrational waste of natural resources. But time resources are wasted no less irrational. General disorganization, disrespect for human time consume hundreds of millions of man-hours per year. Each of us spends far more than one hour of precious time to overcome the empty, useless barriers, clogging our lives.
To change this, we must start with ourselves: find time-consumers, reduce time catchers, begin to use our irreplaceable capital more intelligently.
Let us first take a general method of dealing with any “time-consumers” – the timing, and then look at some typical time-consumers. Timing, accounting and analysis of time allows to make an “audit” of your time to figure out how it is actually spent.
Timing is not an easy task. Take any notebook and start to fix in it everything you do during the day. Refer to the notebook approximately every half an hour and record all cases up to 5-10 minutes.
At the beginning you will be constantly forgetting about timing. Do not hesitate, do not give up timing. Just start to fix cases when you remember about timing. Within days, the habit of timing will appear itself.
If you have a lot of small tasks, do not fix them. Do not fix the cases requiring less than five minutes. you Mark them with the tick in the margin. At the end of the day, count the number of ticks, multiply by two or three minutes – and you’ll get a quantitative measure of the most unpleasant and imperceptible “thieves of time”.
You should make timing during several days, but 3-4 weeks are more desirable. The very process of accounting is very useful. It creates a positive stress, generate a sense of time, which always tells you when your time is spent inefficiently.
If you want to improve the structure of your time, reduce the cost of time-consumers, it makes sense to use quantitative measurer. Some measurers require timing, some of them can be used without timing. Let’s start with the first one.
Using timing the following issues can be obtained:
In the evening, take a “portrait” of the day formed by the timing and mark the matters relating to the long-term priorities; those that could have been delegated; time-consumers. Calculate how much time you’ve spent on each category. Then the fun begins. You need to fix these indicators on the chart every day. Horizontally – weekdays, vertically – your figures, expressed in hours or minutes.
Once you have started to fix quantitative indicators, they begin to become better. Time-consumers begin to decline, while priority tasks begin to rise. The visibility of changes in indicators on the chart will encourage you to improve them further.
But rigid timing in the initial stage can cause difficulties. In this case, it is recommended to use the indicators, which does not require a complete picture of the day. For example:
It is easy to notice that the first two figures recorded for the purpose of increasing; the latest two – in order to decrease. To fix this kind of indicators you do not need a continuous timing. It’s enough to record only work on the priority project during the day. At the end of the day this time is summed up and fixed in the same chart as the previous one.
One of the most common time-consumers is the time spent in public transport or car. We’ll offer you a few ways to optimize time spent in transport:
Business trip is a great “kairos” to work effectively:
It is important to use a business trip wisely. We suggest some simple guidelines:
Do not assume that things will go according to plan, be ready for anything.
Having been on a business trip in any city, make a “city card” in the Outlook. It may include:
It takes a few minutes, but it will save a lot of time for you or your colleagues during the next trip, especially in the case of force majeure.
Computers, fax machines and cars break down. This kind of force majeure can take quite a lot of time.
The first step to control force majeure is flexible planning.
When equipment is out of service, it is a great opportunity to disassemble papers. Yes, you can’t ring up customers database, execute a contract or make a presentation in Power Point. But do you need a computer and printer to think? You can also use this time to make especially unpleasant phone calls.
Backup your information. In well-managed companies IT- department regularly backs up all corporate information. Be sure to back up documents to a floppy or USB- flash drive. It is desirable to duplicate contact and background information on paper – in case of problems with computers etc.
Do not consider yourself smarter than millennial experience of the mankind be ready in advance.
Meetings can also be time-consumers. One meeting is 5, 10, 20 man-hours, depending on the number of participants. Not to turn a meeting in a time-consumer, follow evident, but not simple rules.
1. Determine the format of the meeting and do not mix different formats in a single meeting. Typical formats are:
2. Determine the number of participants. The leader responsible for decision-making and a secretary responsible for time-keeping, retaining all the thoughts and constitution of the final report.
3. Determine the list of issues for discussion. Begin with the priority ones.
4. Determine the duration of the meeting and assign a person responsible for timing.
5. Organize the environment, equipment and distribution of information materials.
6. Use schemes. Visual memory has a higher capacity than verbal one. Therefore, all of the issues discussed at the meeting should be materialized.
7. Fix and send the decisions. Be sure to return to the Protocol at the next meeting. If the results of the meeting are not fixed – the meeting did not exist.
First rule: use any free time for it. For example:
Second rule: create a clear rhythm of increasing personal effectiveness. It’s better to spend on time-management 15 minutes daily than do huge amounts of work irregularly.
We recommend three simple principle of time management rhythm:
And most importantly remember that investment in time-management – is not a cost but an investment.
Use techniques to identify and reduce time-consumers.
Summary of recommendations: