WFH NETWORK

December 2014 / Volume 2, No. 5

Time management: Scheduling your priorities

The best way to make the most of your time is to manage it wisely. An important first step in time management is understanding your priorities, or knowing that some things need to be dealt with sooner than others. Making a list of your priorities is helpful in highlighting what you should focus on first. This is an exercise that will often require a balance of things that you want to do versus things that you have to do. However, things may not always be so simple: how do you prioritize multiple things of great importance, like dinner with family, attending youth group, school work, and factor infusions? Here are some tips that can help.

Time management tips

Time management log

One handy way to plan ahead is to start a time management log – a specific, time-based, to-do list. Start by listing all the things that need to be done in the week, then rank your activities and tasks according to the following criteria:

  • A – Tasks that are urgent and important
  • B – Tasks that are important but not urgent
  • C – Tasks that are neither important nor urgent

Plan when you aim to start and end each activity, then update with the time you actually spent on it. Remember to take into account any challenges or exceptions – like special events – that you need to include in your weekly plan.

ActivityPlanned
Duration
Time Actually Spent Date/TimePriority Level (A,B,C)
Planning next youth
group meeting
45 minutes 1 hour Monday, 12:00pm A
Homework  1 hour
30 minutes 
1 hour  Monday, 5:00pm   A
Fundraiser for youth group  3 hours  4 hours
(with clean-up) 
Monday, 7:00pm  
Swimming  1 hour  1 hour  Tuesday, 12:00pm   B
Choir practice 2 hours  1 hour
45 minutes 
Tuesday, 6:00pm   B
Movie night  2 hours   2 hours Tuesday, 8:00pm   C


Know your rhythm

We all have a natural rhythm, which includes the need for rest and relaxation. Try to reflect on the times of the day when you have the most energy, and use these times to accomplish the most important tasks. 

Break it down

Frequent breaks can improve mental agility. Use a timer to break down work into intervals (e.g. 25 minutes), separated by short (e.g. 5 minute) breaks. 

Eat the frog!

The American author Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” There are tasks that we really don’t want to do and put off for hours, days, or even weeks: these are our ‘frogs’. If we tackle them first, we will have less stress, greater productivity, and a sense of self-fulfillment. 


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Self management vs. team management 

It is one thing to manage your own time, but what about making sure that a team is able to get work completed as efficiently and effectively as possible? 

Planning is an important part of this process. Being a good leader means you know your team – how they work, and how to motivate them. But you need to know how to delegate well so that the work is divided fairly and effectively. 

Time management for your group – delegating tasks 

Delegating involves giving your team members the authority to react to situations without having to involve you. Entrusting them with tasks is important because you will not make the best use of your time by trying to do all the work yourself. By working with the unique strengths and skills of each team member, delegating tasks will ensure that things will get done faster and more accurately.

Steps to successful delegation

STEP ONE: DEFINE THE TASK
Know what the task is as well as the desired outcome, and make sure that the task is suitable for delegation. 

STEP TWO: SELECT THE INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM
Which team member could best perform this specific task? What are your reasons for delegating Task A to Person B? 

STEP THREE: ASSESS ABILITY AND TRAINING NEEDS
Are the team members capable of performing the task, and do they understand what needs to be done? Do you have enough time to train them if needed? Will they benefit from it? 

STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATE
Explain why the work is being delegated, and why you have selected them to do it. Communicate its importance and how it fits with the project or team vision, and precisely what needs to be done. Get feedback from the person or team to ensure that they understand, and of course, determine whether they agree to this assignment. 

STEP FIVE: RESOURCES
Determine what is needed to complete the work, taking people, location, equipment, money, and other related activities and services into account. 

STEP SIX: DEADLINES
Discuss when you would like them to finish the task(s). If the task is complex you should explain the priorities and when review dates are. Whenever possible, strive to accommodate their abilities and preferences in deciding upon a realistic timeline. Check in with them at intermediate points to make sure things are on track. 

STEP SEVEN: SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK
Establish with the team that if they come across problems, you will ask for their ideas regarding possible solutions, and help them come to a solution. Provide feedback throughout the task so they know how they are doing and whether they need to change anything. If it doesn’t go according to plan you need to review what happened with them.

 

What's next?
Effective planning
What constitutes a good plan, and why do you need one? To make sure that goals are met, you need a plan of action to help you get there. Find out more about planning, why it is important, and how best to do it.

Being flexible – changing priorities & adapting to circumstances
When you set priorities, whether for a task or toward a life goal, you should refer back to them to ensure that your efforts are really taking you in the right direction. However, as we grow and life brings changes, our priorities change too. Don’t panic! Celebrate your accomplishments so far, then explore your new priorities and how you can work towards them.


Questions that require an answer are marked with  *
   
What tips have you found helpful in juggling multiple tasks – for yourself and your team?