Time management – a simple, effective approach

We believe it’s crucially important to invest in our team’s personal and professional development and so Esteem Training holds eight development days, spaced throughout the year, and everyone attends. 

Our latest session, in early June, focused on time management geared towards helping us work smarter vs merely harder. We’re determined to do everything in our power to minimise the situation highlighted by the Proudfoot Consulting survey of 2,500 businesses, conducted over four years and involving 38 countries, which revealed that wasted time costs UK businesses £80 billion annually. That’s equivalent to a whopping 7% of Gross Domestic Product not to mention the resulting low morale, potential skills mismatch and tedium affecting the workforce.

Our half-day time management workshop therefore shared simple yet effective tools – key elements of a logical system which everyone can adapt for use in their day-to-day working lives, but needs no special equipment or expensive materials to produce results. And since it has proved popular with the ‘Steemies’, we thought we’d share it further afield using our social media channels. 

Organise your work folders the same way our brains work

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re big supporters of establishing order in the work environment. Our system uses the metaphor of a pine tree to help visualise a useful structure around which to hang large volumes of incoming data that can occasionally feel like an assault on the senses. We’ve found that our approach to organising work folders, both manual and electronic, sits comfortably with many people since it mirrors the way in which our brain stores information. Colour coding key folders can also help.

Overview and Structure – Construct your personal pine tree

Here’s how it works:

  1. The trunk of the tree – This represents your overall goals and vision
  2. Tree branches – These are the key areas you need to address to achieve your goals. You can have up to 10
  3. Twigs leading off the branches – These are the major tasks, broken down for each key area, that you need to complete. Again, you can have up to 10
  4. Needles – These are all the fine details and practical tasks you need to complete along the way

Regular reviews to keep you on track

The best system in the world is only ever as good as its users’ input and so – in keeping with much of life – consistency is key. We’ve therefore drawn up this short checklist that we find helps us to stay focused.

  • Set a daily target for dealing with your Inbox, both manual and electronic
  • Create weekly work plans with defined outcomes and strict deadlines, and review/cross off completed items daily, then weekly
  • Tell your team about your new way of working
  • Carry out regular physical and electronic clear-outs – monthly, quarterly and annually
  • Be consistent – don’t leave your ‘Pine Tree’ to wither and die!