Workshop: It's vital to get time on your side

People who manage time well are great to work with - are you one of them?

Do you feel controlled by lack of time? Are you always trying to push back deadlines?

A critical part of wellbeing and effectiveness for managers is to manage time well. Using time well does not mean being busy, but being productive. Twenty per cent of our focused efforts produce 80 per cent of our results each day.

There are professional and personal reasons to manage time well. Time is a costly commodity. Poor use of time can create a lot of stress, and time well used can motivate and excite. When working with colleagues who do not control their time well, others get frustrated and feel put-upon. But those in good control of their time are generally a joy to work with.

Do you know how you use time? Activity logs kept over a month will help you to see what your time gets spent on, and reviewing these will help you to organise things better.

Every day, think about what goals you want to achieve. These will probably be a mix of reactive (dealing with emails, attending meetings, responding to enquiries or requests for management support) and proactive (planning ahead, developing new initiatives, designing new service additions). A day full of reaction is not a productive day.

To-do lists can be a great help, but big tasks should be broken down into smaller component parts. For example, 'write a business plan' is not suitable for a list, but drafting a section of it might be. Check whether you can delegate anything on the list, and identify whether activities are of a high, medium or low priority. In this way, the activities become more manageable.

Scheduling your activities well is also important. Being accessible to everyone all the time, just in case they need you, is not a good use of time. Set aside part of your day for access. Emails do not need to be read or replied to the instant they arrive. Control the flow. Don't let emailing be a great drain on your time. Movement between venues steals time, so try to schedule meetings together on one site or do some desk work at the venue instead of being perpetually on the move.

Elaine Willis is a consultant and coach specialising in voluntary sector management

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