A ‘creative’ approach to time management may not be in your employer’s best interests, or yours.
Effective time management is an essential skill utilised by successful business people across all industry sectors.
However, as obvious as this may sound, in many cases it’s not an inherent skill but rather one that has to be learned.
The first step is working out what type of time manager you are.
Some of us do the creative things first.
Others are ‘optimistic’ with time management, frequently needing longer to complete a task that initially planned.
Others still dread looming deadlines and yet procrastinate and put things off.
People who behave in these ways are ‘time-creative’ individuals. The problem is that there are a finite number of hours in the day.
The good news, however, is that there are effective and creative ways to manage time.
The first step for time-creative people is to acknowledge they have a problem and stop blaming others.
Time-creatives are excellent at excuses such as: ‘there were more important things to do’; ‘I was hijacked into doing something else’; the job was not that important anyway’ and ‘you hired me for my creativity and brains – not my ability to stick with a list’.
The point is, no matter what you were hired to do, whether you are the boss or the most creative newbie, if you can’t manage your time your career will be short without promotions. It doesn’t matter how creative you are, at some stage you will need to manage your time to bring your new idea to fruition.
You can start to follow a few simple guidelines to manage your time. Not only will your colleagues and workmates be delighted (they won’t have to cover for you anymore), you will gain a sense of satisfaction as you will achieve more in a shorter space of time and actually get to finish a few projects.
Step 1: Acknowledge you have a problem with this and it is your problem.
Step 2: Notice what you are doing for five working days and keep a diary. You will not want to do this, but do it anyway. You need to log how many times you go off task, how many time wasting phone-calls, emails, face-book and twitter times you spend.
Step 3: Review your diary honestly.
Step 4: Realise you are not alone. The world is full of well-meaning dreamers who don’t seem to be able to steer their dreams into reality.
Step 5: Make ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ your daily mantra. Stop promising what may not be possible. For a whole day at least, stop promising altogether and just get on with your daily tasks.
Step 6: Think about your learning style. Do you like to get the big picture first?
Step 7: Examine the tools available to help you with scheduling. What is needed? Do other people need to see your schedule? Do most people in your company use a specific organising system such as outlook or do you have the freedom to choose more widely?
Always plan your week before it happens.
Spend one hour doing this on Sundays and then bookend you week on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. What happened? What do you need to adjust to make it smoother next week?
Do the same on a daily basis. Spend 10 minutes checking your diary/planner thinking about your day and at the end spend 10 minutes reviewing the day.
Everyone can manage their time and everyone needs to take this responsibility. Every second, minute and hour that is wasted is your life slipping through your hands- grab it and make it work for you.
Victoria Carlton is director of the International Centre for Excellence, and consults on time management for creative people.