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How can I improve my time management skills?

I was appointed as a matron in a surgical directorate some months ago However, I am really having problems with time management. How can I improve my time management skills?

Time management is a big issue for many people. The first thing you need to do is to carry out a time audit on yourself. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. You could keep a daily record of how long it takes to do your work.

One way is to break down your day into 15- or 30-minute slots and keep a record for a couple of days.

This may seem time-consuming but it is worth the effort if you really want to improve your time management.

You should then prioritise your daily work by dividing your tasks into groups such as A, B and C tasks, depending on their importance. You can then allocate the available time to tasks more appropriately. Write a plan to reduce the number of B activities and commit yourself to its effective implementation.

The C activities – less important but necessary – still need to be done. If you enjoy them, use them to help you unwind. If they are really boring, such as filing, set aside a specific time each week for them.

Invest in some form of time-planning tool, like a diary, and keep it up to date. You could use an electronic diary if you are comfortable with it. Some of these will print out a daily schedule.

Start each day with a plan or list of things to do – don’t just dive into the first thing that comes to mind. Many people use lists and tick off the tasks as they are accomplished. This can give you a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

There are a number of other things you can do. You can keep your desk tidy, organise a filing system, plan your travel effectively, avoid meetings that are non-productive, delegate work effectively and try to avoid procrastination.

Time is precious and as a manager you do have a responsibility to use it as effectively as you can. This will enable you to balance your work and personal life. It will reduce stress and improve your health.

Above all, it will improve your career, since you will be spending more time doing the things you should be doing.

Chris Pearce, formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach with lifegoalspecialists.co.uk

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