Instaskills, n,

one paged quick learning so you can hit the ground running while on the job

Time Management


Sometimes public health specialist or commissioning work can feel a bit too much at times. Too many things to cover, not enough hours in the day or week. There is no quick solution to this; experience over time will help. The following is a collection of tips I've picked up over the years.

Tips for Good Time Management

  1. List daily goals, set priorities, clarify long-range objectives
  2. Schedule regular time for planning - one hour of effective planning saves 3-4 hours in execution
  3. Write out weekly plans with priorities and deadlines
  4. Just do it! - if there is a task that's is lurking, don't avoid it, start it. Once started, you've broken the back and it gets easier.
  5. Concentrate on one job at a time. Try to stay focused on the important and try to avoid 'firefighting' the urgent.
  6. Handle a task just once! - 60% of daily 'in tray' items could have been dealt with on first handling. Pick it up, deal with it and dispose of it.
  7. At the end of each day, reflect on what you achieved and do not be despondent that you did not finish your daily list

Time Management Tactics

  • Learn to say 'No' - try not to get involved in too many things. Think about what you can realistically achieve in the time you have.
  • Avoid a cluttered desk - clear your desk of everything except the project you are working on. File only what you must, throw out the rest.
  • Don't leave tasks unfinished.
  • Have methods for dealing with interruptions. Develop techniques for finishing a conversation. Work away from a telephone/email or ask not to be disturbed. In a world of emails, it can feel like everything must be responded to at once. Some people when busy set aside an hour at the start and end of day to deal with emails and so free up time during the day to work on the project. It can otherwise feel like a whole day was spent answering emails.
  • Do, Delegate, Delay, Deposit or Dump! Do - means do it now. Delay - decide when you are going to do it. Deposit - file away.

Points to Remember

  • There is no such thing as a normal day
  • Everything takes longer than you think
  • Choose what you must do
  • Choose what you can do
  • Ask yourself what are the consequences of not doing something
  • Do a 'Mike Jordan' - something I learnt when I first became a consultant. If it's not part of your job description or role, then pass it onto to someone more relevant to deal with it. Don't be too worried about needing to be liked or offending people. Saying you'll do something and then finding it difficult to deliver looks worse!