I make no claim to be an expert at time management. What I am is a seminary dean, education consultant, church consultant, and local church pastor who has been forced to learn how to budget time. Here are some time management tips that have worked for me:
- Review your calendar each night. I take a few minutes each night to review my schedule for the next day. That way, I can begin planning how to use my time before I ever get to the office.
- Get up an hour earlier each day. Think about it – one extra hour each gives you essentially one more workday per week. Use that hour wisely, and you may find you have more free time throughout the week.
- Pray as you start the day. God gives all of us the same amount of time. We need His wisdom to use that time effectively and efficiently. Consider also praying briefly about each event scheduled for the day.
- Use a “to do” list. This tip surely seems elementary, but I’m surprised how little attention some folks give to stewarding their day well.
- Do less exciting tasks first. If I do the tedious work first, I’m always looking forward to something I enjoy to do.
- Calendar deadlines before the actual deadline. If you know something must be done by June 1, for example, set the deadline two weeks earlier—and pay attention to the calendar notices about the work due.
- Move papers one time. If a paper needs filing, file it. If a signature is required, sign it. If it’s a bill, pay it. By its very nature, delay will hinder your finishing your work.
- Schedule time to check email. My goal is to check email when I first arrive at the office, after lunch, and just before I leave.
- Take regular breaks. The break need not be long, but even a few minutes can help you re-focus your efforts. Take a walk, go to the restroom, call a friend, throw a baseball, read the paper, go outside – do something that re-energizes you for the rest of the day.
- Close your office door when needed. Give yourself permission to close the door occasionally and concentrate on a task. You’ll be more comfortable with unexpected visits if you are not behind in your work.
- Limit the duration of drop-by visits by standing. Remaining standing – even going to the door and standing in the office doorway – is a simple way to say, “I’m happy to visit, but I have only a few moments.”
- Limit the duration of meetings with good calendaring. Plan meetings back-to-back, and be clear about your time limitations. A simple, “Glad to see you. I have only thirty minutes before my next appointment,” can quickly establish your boundaries.
- Use the telephone. Most of the time, a simple phone call rather than an ongoing email exchange would have saved time.
- Complete at least one task per day. Doing so releases some pressure, and we’re usually more prepared then to face the next task. It’s also a good idea to thank God briefly when you finish a task.
- Clean your desk or work area every day before you leave. Finish a task, and get the work off your desk. Beginning the day with work already on my desk implies I’m behind before I get started.
What other time management techniques have worked for you?