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22nd May 2019
:: Trustee | Productivity | Make the most of your day

Top Tips: Make the most of your day
Yes, we all intend to be more efficient, but how many of us actually set ourselves a plan, then organise ourselves effectively?
Don’t keep saying ‘I really must get organised…’ Read this article for great ideas, THEN PUT IT INTO EFFECT!
Because there are only so many hours in the day, we can’t get everything done that we might like to. If you’re the sort of person who plans everything like a military operation, you may well have everything well under control. If you’re not so good at managing your time, then here are a few tips to help.
1.       Daily Planning. In order to make the most of your time, you need to spend it in the most productive way. Planning your time is the best way to ensure you make the most of the time you have.
First thing every Monday morning (or Sunday evening if you prefer), spend 15 to 30 minutes planning what you need to do that week to keep you focussed and on track. What actions MUST you take each day/week? Spend the first 10-15 minutes each morning planning your tasks and actions for the day. When are you going to do these? Block out time in your diary and make an appointment with yourself for when you are going to write a report, or make those phone calls.
2.       One Diary. Don’t have one diary for home and one diary at work or one for personal and one for business. Whether it’s paper based or electronic, keep all your personal and business appointments in one place. That way you will have all important dates and events available when you are planning your time and booking appointments – include birthdays, anniversaries, children’s activities, school events, social gatherings etc.
Electronic organisers, such as the Palm Pilot, iPAQ and Psion are useful tools. They can automatically synchronise with your calendaring tool on your computer such as Outlook and can then be carried with you when you’re away from your desk or out of the office, enabling you to check your diary at any time. If you have one family calendar at home check this each week and update your diary.
3.       Do important things first.  In order to make the most effective use of your time you need to focus on what’s important. Prioritise your tasks and actions in order of importance or urgency. Ensure you spend most of your time focussing on the important to avoid them becoming urgent later on. Get the high priority tasks done first and break larger tasks down into smaller ones.
What MUST get done today? What else needs to be done? Be realistic about what you can achieve each day – don’t set yourself up with a massive to-do list and only achieve a few things. Start small and build from success. Be aware of ‘time-wasters’.
4.       Delegate. One way to make the most of your time is to get someone else to do the tasks that don’t absolutely need your attention. Do you really need to do everything? Who else could help you out? If someone else has the skills to do a task then ask them to do it. It will give you time to focus on the more important things and the tasks that only you can do.
The busier you are the more you need to be able to delegate. Train someone up to do some of your tasks and share your workload. Give someone else the opportunity to learn and grow. Cleaning, gardening, paperwork – get someone else to do these or help you out.
Create your own ‘virtual team’ – a book-keeper to do your books, your accountant to do your accounts, a virtual assistant (VA) to do your admin tasks, invoicing and mailings – you may not be able to afford staff full time but you can make better use of your time by hiring people when you need them.
5.       Avoid interruptions.  Sometimes we’d be so much more effective if we didn’t get constantly interrupted. What are your main interrupters? Email, phones calls, people?
If you have work to do and need some undisturbed time – switch the phone through to the answer machine or voice-mail. Switch it off – as long as you remember to switch it back on when you’re finished!
Ignore incoming emails – if you get an alert each time you receive a new email, switch it off and check your emails 2-3 times a day ONLY!
If you’re at work, book a meeting room or use an empty office for a couple of hours and shut yourself away. If you are able to – work from home for the day – that way you get less interruption from people just ‘dropping by’ and interrupting you at your desk. If you have an office, educate people that when the door is closed you’re not to be disturbed.
6.       Give yourself a break. Make sure you take breaks throughout the day – even if it’s just for a few minutes. The brain is only able to concentrate effectively for short periods of time. The longer you spend doing one thing, the more ineffective you will become.
      Sitting in one position for long periods of time doesn’t do you any good physically or mentally. Some people can concentrate for hours when they’re totally absorbed in a task, in general you should take a break at least once every two hours. You will be fresher and better able to concentrate. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated!
7.       Make use of slack time. We all have times of the day when we’re waiting. Make use of this time by doing something productive.
      Carry a book with you so you always have something to read. If someone cancels an appointment see it as a gift and use that time to do some admin, clear some files, make a few phone calls.
8.       Reward yourself. Don’t forget to reward yourself at the end of a busy and productive day or when you’ve completed a particular project.
      Include it in your plan – how will you treat yourself?
This has been adapted from an original article written by Clare Evans, in August 2007.
Clare is a Time Management Coach, and can be contacted at    
Her website can be found at The IFA Time Coach

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