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     Practical Time Management Tips

One of the biggest problems facing most people, let alone those working from home, is that of time management. I don't mean we WASTE our time by being lazy and doing nothing -- if we are honest we all do that sometimes. But how many of us, at the end of what seemed like a busy day, have sat down and wondered just what we have ACHIEVED? How often have you heard someone say "I've been so busy today, but I don't seem to have achieved anything?"

This is the main difference between life's achievers and those who, although always busy, never get anywhere. Time is the one commodity that we all have in equal amounts. It's just that successful people spend their time wisely. It does not matter how intelligent, educated, rich or well connected you are, if you don't use your time EFFICIENTLY, you are sure to fail. I don't mean that you should spend all your time slaving away over your computer -- far from it! What I do mean is that you should use your time EFFECTIVELY -- both work and leisure time.

But I can hear you saying "I spend twelve hours a day working, I just have that much to do I never seem to be able to finish or to have time to relax." I would say that if you manage your time effectively, you would achieve MORE in eight hours than you are presently doing in twelve.

First, to know how to save time, you need to know (not guess) how you are SPENDING your time at present. If you are serious about making yourself more effective, please carry out the following task thoroughly -- the results will surprise you and shock you into action. What I want you to do is to keep a TIME LOG of all your activity for the next two weeks. Take a piece of paper, or a diary page, divide each working day into quarter of an hour slots, and at the end of each fifteen minutes, make a brief note of how you have spent that time. I would suggest that you formulate a simple KEY so that you do not waste more time writing! This would obviously be something that suits your particular work, but it could be something like
  • A (time spent reading e-mails)
  • B (time spent reading ezines)
  • C (replying to emails)
  • D (making coffee)
  • E (making phone calls)
  • F (receiving phone calls)
  • G (being interrupted by folks who just want a chat)
  • H (traveling)
  • I (attending meetings)
  • ...and so on, I am sure you get the picture

At the end of each day, simply add up the time spent on each activity and RECORD it. At the end of the two weeks I am sure you will be amazed at the time you spent on actively moving your business forward and how much time was wasted, even though it APPEARED as if it was work! As the days progress you will probably begin to notice things you are doing that are unproductive and begin to ALTER your habits. Do you really need to read all those ezines?

At the end of the fortnight, you should sit down and review your time log. Does the amount of time spent on something correlate to the IMPORTANCE of that item towards achieving your primary goal? Could you alter how you do some tasks to help you complete them FASTER? Are you overloaded by a backlog of items that you either need to deal with or let go of?

Ok, so now you have managed to get rid of the elements that you were wasting your time on, but how do you move forward to the next stage of actually ensuring that your time is spent PRODUCTIVELY? Just as you should have planned the future, you need to PLAN each day. At the end of each day, take five minutes to list the things you need to do the following day. Then prioritize each item. Ask yourself -- will doing this help me achieve my goal? Is this something I can get someone else to do (delegate)? How URGENT is it?

The following morning, work through each item IN ORDER of priority. Where possible, do the hardest or most unpleasant task FIRST. Once that is out of the way the rest of your day will seem to go quicker and smoother than if you were worrying all day about having to do it!


Tony Murtagh has spent his entire career involved in sales, sales management, marketing and PR. He is now sharing his wide experience of sales, marketing and promotion in his new web site. You may visit his website at DevelopYourWebSiteAndYourself.com or subscribe to his weekly e-ezine Aardvark Marketing at .

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