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How to Improve Your Time Management

written by: Profacgillies•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/17/2011

As a home worker or business person, time is your most precious asset. You should plan how you allocate your time and check that you use your time as intended. You should consider your habits. This article considers characteristic habits of good and bad time managers and considers the consequences.

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    Good Habits to Develop

    Good Time Management Habits Good time managers routinely prioritize their work and concentrate first on the tasks to which they have allocated the highest priority. They recognize the need to be disciplined, and once they have established their priorities they stick to them. They are focused, and they will have set up their working environment to help them avoid distractions, so that they can concentrate effectively. This may mean making use of answer phones or answering services to create time in which tasks can be finished. This can be challenging, especially in a home working environment, and may be seen as selfish. Regular breaks are a good thing, but should be scheduled and not too frequent!

    Finally, they recognize the importance of starting designated work periods on time and of completing tasks, without spending excessive time that a task may not justify.

    Of course, these habits cannot be achieved without being organized and having systems in place where appropriate, but a procrastinating person will always find a way to subvert a system, and a good time manager will find systems that work for them. Lists work for some people: post-it notes for others. It is worth taking time to find systems that work for you and reinforce good habits.

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    Bad Habits to Break

    In many ways the bad habits are the opposite of the above: a failure to prioritize, being easily distracted, and confusing what is urgent with what is important (they are not the same!). Home workers can easily slip into bad habits: a failure to establish clear boundaries between home and work, both in terms of time and location. Technology has done us no favors in this regard. In a homeworking setting, there is often additional pressure to compromise work in terms of home or indeed the opposite. Resist it! If work intrudes on home life too much, then when you are working you are likely to be tired and worrying about the domestic tasks that you have not done. This can be especially true if you're a work at home parent.

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    The Consequences of Bad Habits

    Bad time management costs you money. Time is your most valuable resource: you would not throw banknotes away, so why waste time? However, there are also indirect consequences of bad time management. It is likely to make you stressed and this can have adverse effects both for home and business relationships, and in extreme cases, your health.

    It can create a general impression of disorganization and sloppiness, which can also be bad for business.This can be especially important if you are a consultant billing by the hour, think about it from your customers' perspective. Would you pay someone by the hour if you saw evidence that jobs that should take one hour were more likely to take two? Why pay twice? You may not win a contract at all if you cost the work by the hour and the total time taken is too great.

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    Gallagher, Leigh, "How I managed my time - the Covey way,"

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