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Tips on good time management

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This item was provided by Accountingweb. Time management was one of the top options in AccountingWEB’s New Year resolution poll. Professional training expert Viv Cole came up with some surprising responses to commonly held assumptions about time management.

Always have a tidy desk
While a tidy desk can help you work more effectively by eliminating distractions, you need to weigh up the time spent tidying against the cost of being untidy. Consider your desk “healthily tidy” if you can find what you need quickly and can easily direct a colleague to find relevant information, for example when you’re out of the office.


Going home at 5:30pm every day shows that you don’t have enough work to do
If you are confident that you are on track to meet your objectives and deadlines, why feel guilty about going home at 5:30? Partners should assess you on what you actually achieve rather than how much effort you put in. Obviously there are sometimes good business reasons why you will need to work later. If you manage your time effectively you will be clear about the reasons to work later rather than working late being a matter of course.


Plan all of your tasks using To Do lists
If you can complete a task immediately and fairly quickly, just do it! Putting things onto a To Do list may take longer than they’re worth. The fewer items on your To Do list, the less time you’ll need to spend deciding which to do now. Allocate a time slot to respond to your e-mails/ correspondence. This will give you a motivating sense of having got things done and keep your To Do list more manageable.

Never let yourself get interrupted by your colleagues
While it is difficult to come back to a half-completed task when you’re interrupted in the middle of it, colleagues are one of your most valuable resources. Often you will find out information or improve relationships which will allow you to achieve your objectives. Communicate and agree with colleagues the times that you don’t want to be distracted (and vice versa) e.g. when you’re working on a report or a proposal.

Appraisals are a huge waste of time
Not so. An appraisal is one of the best ways to use your time. In a good appraisal you will agree and set objectives which balance your career aspirations with the firm’s business plan. If you have clear objectives, you have ready-made criteria for deciding which tasks to fit into your limited time available. Each month allow yourself 20 minutes or so to check your progress against last month’s objectives and set new objectives for what you want to achieve in the next month. Compare these with your objectives for the year.

Viv Cole Associates specialises in providing management, business, marketing & accounting skills training and e-learning to professional services firms. Clients range from sole traders to the Big Five. If you would like to find out more, please e-mail [email protected].

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