Business Leader campaign: Why should you be prioritising time management right now?

In our next article tackling 12 of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs this year, Paul Carroll from Toastmasters International shares his thoughts on the importance of time management for entrepreneurs.

Time management is a thorny issue. We all feel we have too much to do (often a well-justified belief) and have tried various methods to get control of our workload.

Here are three ideas for effective time management that I have learned from others.

Help your team with priorities

I once met a Chief Executive who had a terrible commute. He made the decision to take the earliest train into London, so he arrived in his office a good couple of hours before the rest of the team.

He went through all his emails and messages, then sent actions to the appropriate member of staff, so that they saw them as soon as they arrived. They could then use them to set or reset their priorities for the day. Not only did this help achieve their overall goals, but it also helped make sure that everything got handled in a timely fashion.

Early rising might not be suitable for you, but it is a lesson in looking at how you can reinvent your working day and make better use of your time.

Make the most of flexible work arrangements

Having arrived early, the executive mentioned above also went home early. With so many people back working from home, it is important to think about time management in this context.

As we’ve found during the pandemic, maintaining boundaries when working from home is hard. Psychologist Sarah Lewis, from Appreciating Change, suggests that a better strategy is to go for balance and recommends a break from the screen every 40 minutes. For 10 minutes do something else entirely.

Since it is hard to concentrate fully for much longer than 40 minutes, you’ll feel the mental as well as the physical benefit of moving. And importantly, your time will be used more effectively when you get back to your work.  Set this as a standard for your team.

You can cut the number of your emails by half!

This bold statement was made by Toastmaster Brad Revell. When writing emails, he suggests asking anticipatory questions. He provided this example of an email requesting a meeting, which starts as follows:

Email 1 (Sender): Hi, can you meet up for a meeting next week to discuss Project A?

Email 2 (Responder): Yes, I can meet next week to discuss Project A. When are you thinking of meeting?

The correspondence meanders for four or more emails until you finally get an agreement.

With an anticipatory question, you can make quick progress

Email 1 (Sender): Hi, can you meet up for a meeting next week to discuss Project A? If so, can you meet on Monday at 4pm for 30 minutes? Let me know and I’ll schedule a meeting.

Email 2 (Responder): Sure, I’m available on Monday and can do 4pm. Looking forward to receiving the meeting request.

Done!

Of course, some communications are more complex, but the anticipation technique will significantly reduce your volume of emails and let you make much better use of your time.

We want to hear from you!

What are your best tips for successful time management? Send in your advice, and the best answer will have their news/thought leadership article featured on the all-new Business Leader Newswire!

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Simply email editor@businessleader.co.uk with the subject line ‘Time Management’ and be featured on Business Leader!

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