How to make better use of your time

It’s the New Year; we are all starting 2014 with a clean slate. Do you ever wonder how some people manage to get so much out of their day while you are struggling with time? After all, we all get the same 24 hours in the day. I hear it from my clients all the time. They are spending too much time at work and not enough time doing the things that they love to do. So let’s look at how to make better use of your time. 

In Stephen Covey’s book First Things First, he teaches you a process to adopt to prioritise your work:

  1. Important and urgent – this is top of the to-do list. Get it done…today
  2. Important, not urgent – these are tomorrows tasks. They are your second priority
  3. Urgent, not important – these are urgent to somebody else but not to you. They are third priority
  4. Not important or urgent – delete these tasks or give them to delegate them to someone else

To implement Covey’s process, I use the following methods:

  1. If it can be done in 2 minutes, just do it and get it out of the way.
  2. Avoid email conversations. They take too much time and you end up watching your inbox waiting for the latest reply. Phone them and have a quick conversation.
  3. Turn off your email, phone and the internet. They are a distraction.
  4. Use a diary. If you have something important to do, block off time in your calender. It means you are not available to do anything else but concentrate on this project. Google calendar is brilliant for this.
  5. Don’t be afraid to tell clients “I got your email/ call. I am in the middle of a really important project at the moment, is it alright if I get back to you in the morning?”

What are your tips to making better use of time so you can work smarter?