5 Tips for Improving your Time Management

What’s more precious to you and your business than time? Almost anyone can do a better job of managing their time, but when you lead a business, the ways in which you spend your time has an impact on a large number of people. Because of this, it is vitally important that whenever possible you make note of your time-consuming activities and determine if there are ways to make better use of how you spend your days.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we’re always looking for strategies to make the most of our working lives. From experience (and a little research), here are a few tips we found helpful when trying to maximize our time: DSC3431

Filter out distractions. In our digital era, the number of time-wasting distractions from texting to social media is considerable. Email is a big distraction, as it can constantly interrupt whatever you’re doing and lead you down a path of non-productivity.

One solution is turning off email notifications on your devices. Otherwise, “even if you are not going to answer immediately, the knowledge that there is an email there can itself be a distraction,” notes business writer Derek Parker. He also advises putting aside “particular blocks of time, such as when you arrive at the office, before lunch, and before you leave at night, to respond.”

Prioritize. Busy people sometimes fall into the trap of turning their attention to whatever fresh challenge or issue presents itself. The next thing they know, an entire day has passed with little achieved. Actively prioritizing what needs to be done can help you avoid this trap.

“Don’t ask what tasks you feel like working on, but what you have to work on,” advises Fast Company.  

Plan your day. Another common time-management error is not preparing in advance for how you plan to spend your day. Attempting to do so “spontaneously” (while the work-day is proceeding) doesn’t always take into account the most urgent tasks you should attend to, nor does it acknowledge the time of day when your focus and creativity is strongest.

Try plotting out the next day’s schedule at the end of your work-day, leaving some of your “peak-power time” for the most important upcoming tasks.

Track your time. There are numerous time-tracking apps out there to help you audit and assess how you spend your time. Research the types of apps available and try one or two to learn more about the activities that consume your working day. Use of the right app can pinpoint nagging distractions, activities that create more stress than productivity, and other daily activities or non-planned events that keep you from making the most of your time.

Acknowledge the importance of work/life balance. Failing to rigorously plan out your personal life (to a reasonable degree) is another potential grievous time-management error. Whether those personal to-do items include a parent/teacher conference, celebrating your spouse’s birthday, or just wanting to spend more time with the family, find ways to schedule key non-work events so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

“Achieving work/life balance isn’t just about the hours you work,” says time management expert Laura Vanderkam, “it’s about treating your family and leisure time with the same mindfulness” you apply to your professional life. “Knowing what you want to do vastly increases the chances that it happens.”

As noted, there’s nothing more valuable than the time we have. For us that has meant that these efforts have helped our hardwood lumber buyers make more calls, our kiln dried operators become more efficient, and our sawmill managers cut more Red Oak, White Oak, Cherry and the like!  By avoiding critical time-management mistakes, you and your team can get more done and leave the workplace more satisfied at the end of the day.

What methods have you found effective in an effort to improve time management? 

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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