Welcome to Shawn’s Friday Five: Five quick tips to help you increase your effectiveness, and the effectiveness of your team.
The most common challenge our coaching clients struggle with is how to prioritize their time. I thought it would make sense to share with you my top five tips for prioritizing your day and re-gaining control of your time.
1. Plan for success. Never end your day without planning your top three priorities for the next day. Yes, I know it is difficult to identify only three priorities, but force yourself! More than three will result in misguided focus; less than three is likely impossible.
2. Bucket your tasks. Take all of your daily assignments and place them into mental (or physical) buckets. More specifically use the following: Urgent; Not so urgent; Junk. Deal with the urgent within the confines of your day but outside of your priority task time. Delay anything that is “not so urgent” until you have had time to review relative to your time management plans. Get rid of the “junk” by delegating, passing off or completely ignoring.
3. Look out, incoming! Look at every task or issue that crosses your desk and bucket the task using the following three questions: (1) Is this time sensitive? (2) Can I delegate or reassign this task? (3) How much time will this take me? The answers to each of these questions will help you identify what you need to handled within your day, and what can wait to be prioritized later in the day (see item #1 above).
4. Chunk it down. If you have a day filled with meetings, but three priorities that you must accomplish (see item #1 above), then look at the amount of time you have available to work on your priorities, add in some contingency time for emergencies, and then chunk it down. So for example if you only have 4 hours outside of meetings to focus on what you want (or need) to achieve, assign 1 hour to each of your three priorities and leave 1 hour to deal with unexpected matters that are urgent and can not wait.
5. Manage your time. It is your time, and presumably you were placed in your current role or position relative to your competence to achieve your job. Have confidence in your abilities, and in managing your time. If others wish to alter your plans (which you should only do if requested by your superiors) make sure they are clear of the priorities (see item #1) that will not be accomplished if you re-direct your efforts. In doing so you are communicating that you have visibility of your priorities, and you are allowing them to decide which is more important.
© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.