I’ve been running our highly successful ‘Prioritisation and Time Management’ 1-day training session twice this month for the Law Society of Scotland’s members. They were so popular in fact that even after putting on an extra course day we were still over-subscribed.

It just shows that ‘managing’ time continues to be a great challenge for most people in the workplace and at all levels, as evidenced by the range of attendees from trainees to senior partners, in small to very large organisations.

During the day I shared a series of great tools and techniques to become more effective. We experienced a range of emotions, from tears to big aha-moments and for some people in the room the day will be transformative.

In this article I will share the one piece of advice that makes all the difference! This is the investment that will make any time management technique that you know work for you, but if you don’t do it even the greatest techniques will not make much difference! Yes, I know, I am setting the expectations high.

Reflection time

My advice: Find at least 1 hour every week to stand back and reflect and plan ahead!

This is going to save you time well in excess of the time you put in.

Everyone knows it is the right thing to do, but they rarely do it. They look at their overdue work and rationalise that it is better just to get some work done, but I guarantee you that it isn’t. You will most likely end up saying that you have been very busy, but not feel you achieved a lot. I have coached 100s of managers and professionals around this and they are consistent in their praise for the approach (even so some still fail to make it a long-term habit).

For that reflection and planning time to be effective here are some recommendations:

  • I recommend that you do this in your worktime.
  • Find a time every week that you protect for this. Most choose either Friday or Monday morning, before they start their other work activities.
  • Make sure you are undisturbed, so you can concentrate. Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted, by email, phones or other work. You may want to do this away from your office.

Review the week just gone e.g.:

  • How good was my prioritisation and effectiveness this week?
  • How much of my time did I spend on activities that will get me closer to my big goals?
  • How much time were wasted on un-important ‘stuff’? How do I reduce this or avoid it happening again?
  • What meetings did I attend? Were they a good use of my time? How can I improve them in the future?
  • How much of my time was ‘hijacked’ by others?
  • How well did my planned activities and priority to-do items pan out? What can I learn from this and improve next week?
  • Etc.

Review and plan your week ahead e.g.:

  • What are the one or two key things I want to achieve next week, that will get me closer to my big goals? How do I find and protect the time to ensure they get done?
  • How do I apply what I learned from the week gone, that is going to make me more effective next week?
  • What meetings are in my planner next week? Do I need to attend them all, can I delegate some, can we improve their effectiveness etc.?
  • What is on my to-do list for next week? What are the priorities? What should I delegate? What should I not do?
  • Etc.

Do this consistently every week and for motivation add up how much time you saved next week and celebrate when you successfully moved your big personal goals forward.

I hope you find this a little thought provoking and useful. Please try it and share your experience.

If you are interested in learning more about the tools and techniques we share in our ‘Prioritisation and Time Management’ course please do join us at an open course or contact us to arrange an in-house course.

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