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Make time for the things you care about

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in Office Management,Time Management

Are you spending enough time on the things that are really important to you? Or does your time get eaten up by routine, trivial tasks?

Here are some ways to match up your time with your priorities, suggested by author and consultant Robert Rutherford:

Create blocks of uninterrupted time. Whenever you put an item on your to-do list, estimate how much time it's going to take and mark that time out on your calendar. Batch shorter items together and get them done all at once. Be vigilant about respecting your own need for uninterrupted time--let others know when they should contact you instead so that your designated time is free for important tasks.

Get started more quickly in the morning. Morning is a good time to follow specific and automatic routines--check your mail, read the paper, pour a cup of coffee, and then get started on something worthwhile. Wait until later to respond to the mail, follow up on items in the paper, have conversations with team members, and so on. It's often good to leave off work at the end of the day in the middle of a project--it's much easier to get going in the morning if you're not starting at the beginning.

Get more done in the same amount of time. Establish an acceptable level of performance for the work you do, and if a task is really not that important to you, don't invest time in exceeding that baseline level. Develop standard ways of doing things and minimize the thinking that has to go into each activity.

Get others to respect your time. If you consistently use your time in productive ways, others will better understand what your priorities are and how their demands on your time affect the work you do. Model the behavior you want to see by demonstrating that you also care about other people's time; when they're involved in a task, don't interrupt them to assign another.

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