Jan Zaragoza’s Time Management Tip of the Month
From her workshop:
Managing Chaos! Tools to Set Priorities & Get Things Done
Keep a log of what you do for a week. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time — just make a quick note whenever you move to a new task (go to a meeting, answer email, work on a project, your manager comes by). No need to keep track of smaller than 15 minute increments.
Next: Once you’ve kept your log for a week, take a yellow highlighter and highlight whenever you were working on the right things: things that supported your key responsibilities. What will you find out? You may be surprised how little time you spend on the most important things! And then — here’s where the power of the activity comes in — notice what interrupted or distracted you. What were the things that pulled you off your most important tasks?
This activity is like a budget for your money. Isn’t it sometimes surprising to find how much we spend on certain categories of expenses?! Well, it’s the same for our time. Where is our time going?
Real Life Example
One of my Time Management coaching clients is allowing me to share with you what she learned by doing a Time Log. Not that you’ll learn the same things, but notice the VALUE of what she learned:
1) “I need to use email more and save some tasks for my Tuesday Staff meeting.” (She is a people-person who spent a lot of her time going from employee to employee telling them things and getting caught up in too many conversations. Once she realized this, she decided it would save her a lot of time if she a) used email in place of some conversations, and b) told all employees the same message in her staff meeting rather than in separate conversations.)
2) “I was taking care of things my people should have.” (Managers! Most of you will learn the same thing.)
3) “I learned I need to reevaluate what is an immediate priority and what can be responded to at a later date.” (This is called prioritization; a topic of a future newsletter.)
4) “I realized how broken up my day is — I become involved in other people’s issues.” (Can you relate?!)
Do something about it
From what you learn by doing your Time Log, set some practical, concrete goals of how you can better use your time on a daily basis. The results are immediate!
Taking the time to do a Time Log is a small investment to make to discover how you are spending your time — and your life!
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