Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants
Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants Janie Kayes

Time management is a universal problem

WELCOME to Tuesday - the day before 'Hump Day'.

There's still time to achieve something this week - but you've already blown at least one day. In any survey of life's problems, time management is usually towards the top of the list. It's a universal problem, and one that everyone wants to resolve.

Many gurus have suggestions on how they have overcome the beast that is managing your time efficiently - and I have tried at least 80% of them! The others are just too silly...

Although I do not think of myself as a guru, here are some thoughts on time management that I have found to work moderately successfully...

1. You need to find out what it is you do.
Now you may be an accountant or an administration worker ... but what do you actually do during the day? Compiling a list or detailed diary of your activity can be very depressing, but until you know what you do, you can't make any changes.

You will find that interruptions are a major feature of your day, so I would expect that identifying your interruptions will be a huge revelation when you complete this exercise.

The astounding thing is that you do have some control over the level of your interruptions. We sometimes choose to feel 'busy and important', and these interruptions can rob us of our day. The biggest example I can think of is email. Is your email account constantly open? Do you get an annoying alert every time?
If you look seriously at your emails, you will find that this is true surprisingly often.

Another major time-stealer is people - which really is just emails in another form!
However, the physical presence of someone else makes them even harder to avoid. These are only two examples - you need to find your own demons and face them squarely.

2. Now you know what you do - so do something about it!
Having identified the problems, you need to get creative. Establishing a no-interruption period during the day may be the solution for you. Of course, surrounding yourself with people who can operate without consulting you will also be a major step forward.

3. Do it now - stop procrastinating!
Our natural inclination to procrastinating can also lead to time management disasters. Sometimes an interruption can be a welcome excuse to avoid doing what we know we should be doing - we've all been there!

If you catch yourself procrastinating, think seriously about whether this is because you think the task is unnecessary, too hard or too big. If it's unnecessary, why are you even doing it? If it's too hard, get help. If it's too big, break it into bite-sized tasks so that you can get some wins on the board and feel like you're making progress.

Now I did have more points, but I've run out of time! Watch this space for next week on part 2 of time management...

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