Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Ian Garner
Business Writer
3:00 AM 21st May 2022

“Manage Your Time, Don’t Let It Manage You!”

“Manage your time, don’t let it manage you!” says business writer Ian Garner.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Time is precious. If you control it, great, but if you don’t, you can spend your working life in a muddle.

To make yourself more time efficient try to minimise distractions. Try to identify the ‘time thieves’ in your life. Who are the people who ‘drop by’ your office or desk? It has been calculated that it can take an average of 15 minutes to get back to where you were before you were interrupted, only a few interruptions can quickly add up to serious time lost.

Emails and phone calls can be a big cause of distraction. Try to manage them by using voicemail/answer phones and setting times when you check and respond to emails.

Ask yourself, “is the problem me?,” Are you someone who finds it hard to work on a task for prolonged periods? Are you constantly looking for diversions, such as a cup of coffee, a quick browse on the internet, or a quick check of social media?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Tips for Effective Time Management

Set goals that are achievable and measurable. Use the SMART method when setting goals. Make sure the goals you set are
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Set time parameters for completing tasks to help you be more focused and efficient. A small extra effort to decide on how much time you need to allot for each task can also help you recognise potential problems before they arise. That way you can make plans for dealing with them.

Take a break, doing a lot of tasks without a break makes it harder to stay focused and motivated. Allow some downtime between tasks to clear your head and refresh yourself.

Be organised. Use your diary or calendar to note down deadlines and milestones. Do a ‘to-do-list’ and make it a living document. It reduces the chance of missing something and gives a sense of progress.

Plan ahead, think about what you want to achieve at the start of the day, week and month. You don’t need to be driven by your diary but you need to be organised and effective.

What are the common mistakes and failures?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Typical errors and how to avoid them:

Trying to do everything yourself. It can’t be done. Delegate jobs which are routine, require no specific skills or are time-consuming. Regular tasks should be planned in advance and delegate jobs which someone is keen to take on - delegation can be good training.

Poor or inadequate briefing. Be clear about objectives before you explain the task. Support 'ownership' of the project by whoever is taking it on. Agree help and deadlines. Arrange procedures for monitoring.

Aiming for unnecessary perfection. Most customers would rather have a good job, completed on time, than a perfect job, three weeks late. Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘better.’

The four Ds of time management:

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important “Do it Now!” Important & urgent – highest priority “Diarise!” Important but not urgent, need to be scheduled in advance
Not Important “Delegate!” Not important but urgent – needs to be done quickly but doesn’t need ‘quality time’ “Discard!” Not important, not urgent -why are you doing these tasks at all?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Your action plan for the future should be:

1.Schedule your workload. Commit to deadlines.

2.Review your activities. Decide what to delegate and what to cut out.

3.Sort out your systems and processes. You do not have to do everything at once. Tackle large projects in sections.

4.Pay attention to the results and act on the feedback you get. Amend your scheduling if necessary.

5.Share your success with your colleagues. Encourage them to work more effectively.

Ian Garner
Ian Garner
Ian Garner is a retired Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (FIoD). He is vice-chair of the Institute of Directors, North Yorkshire Branch. He is founder and director at Practical Solutions Management, a strategic consultancy practice and skilled in developing strategy and providing strategic direction, specialising in business growth and leadership. Ian is a Board Member of Maggie’s Leeds. Maggie’s provides emotional and practical cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online, with their centre in Leeds based at St James’s Hospital.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is the UK's largest membership organisation for business leaders, providing informative events, professional development courses for self-improvement, networking and expert advice. The IoD North Yorkshire Branch has members across Harrogate, York and the surrounding towns and is reaching out to business leaders, of large and small enterprises, to help their businesses succeed.