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Health and Safety for Beginners Time Management Tool

Health and Safety for Beginners Time Management Tool

Published on HSfB 7 March 2008

If like me you try to juggle 101 things in the air at the same time, it won’t be too long before you begin to forget important things at your work or in your studies. Your stress levels begin to build up and you start to get overwhelmed with tasks, even small incidentals. Then one day something undoubtedly gives way or you simply plod along aimlessly trying to cope and never really get anywhere.

Sound familiar?

This time management tool is one of many methods you can use to help take control of your daily and weekly tasks, both at work and in study. It will help you to prioritise and arrange tasks in a logical manner and will also help you to become much more productive as a direct result. All you need to do is simply follow these three easy steps using the planning sheets provided.

Download the time management planning sheets and guide here – HSfB Time Management Tool

Step 1

First, use the Time Management Journal – Step 1 document for the first full week. Use a separate sheet for work and home life.

The journal in this step is an honest and accurate account of your use of time each day. When you start a task, fill in the start time, end time, a description of the task and any interruptions you have during the task. Interruptions can be your boss asking you to do something for him/her, or it could be an accident investigation, or even a toilet break/ciggie break etc. Write them all in the interruptions column and analyse the results at the end of the week.

By the end of the week, you will see the common interruptions and obviously the interruptions you have no control over, which will happen every week and that’s ok. Deal with those interruptions! If the interruptions are people just having a chat, then have a chat with them, but be ready to explain to them that you need to get on with your work and they should leave you in peace! Be nice though 😉 You may also uncover various patterns of your work colleagues where they could perhaps improve their own productivity at work.

Step 2

Next is to use the Time Management – Task Planning – Step 2 document.

There are three key priorities to use in this document –

  • A – Jobs that must be done.
  • B – Jobs that ought to be done but can be delayed if necessary.
  • C – Jobs that are easy/enjoyable but don’t directly achieve objectives.

You should complete this sheet on a weekly basis and update it as the week progresses and tasks are completed or progressed.

Add in your task description, give it a priority, update the status and add in a time you think you will need to complete the task. This helps to focus your mind on the task and is your living document that helps you psychologically.

All these things are in your head all at once, which makes your stress levels increase as you feel you never get near the end of the list. But, if you write them down and show your progress, even minor progress, you begin to see and feel the positive effects of your efforts, which is an amazing feeling.

Step 3

Next is to use the Time Management – Daily Plan – Step 3 document. This is your daily plan for your tasks. First thing in the morning, set your plan of action for the day and try to stick to it as best you can. Don’t try to fill each slot of time with something to do, give yourself some floating time in there as things rarely go to plan, but again it helps you focus. Each day, start a new sheet and refer back to the previous day’s sheet to see what jobs still need attention.

Refer to the task planning document from step 2 and allocate time to your top priority tasks (and lower priority jobs if you can). For example, if you need to do risk assessments on four machines and you think it will take you about 5 hours in total, allocate 1 or 2 hours to the task for that day, then move on to something else of high priority. Unless of course the task needs to be carried out until complete. Only you can decide how much time to give each priority, but remember there are only so many hours in a day for work/study and you can only do so much. You are only human!

Hints and Tips

  • The biggest challenge to start with is to find the time to populate your time management sheets! Once you do start and you see the benefits, you will be amazed at how much it helps and how much you will rely on the sheets to help you focus.
  • Archive all of your sheets when finished with them and look back now and again to see how they have helped you manage your time. It helps keep you focused.
  • I have attached another sheet which is a study planning sheet and is used purely for study time. Wherever you can steal time for studying, at work or home, fill in your study sheet and stick to it as best you can using the principles explained in this guide.
  • Be realistic.
  • When using the tool for study, work out what time you have available for study and don’t forget to make time for sleeping, eating, recreation, etc. You still have a life.
  • Try to plan ahead – do not leave everything to the last minute, remember assignments and reports need research time, so start early.
  • Prioritise – do not do the easiest task first, but the one that really needs to be done first.
  • Set objectives which are reasonable, and make sure that they are somewhere you can see them. You could keep a wall planner chart if you have a spare wall.
  • Break large tasks into manageable sub-tasks and set target dates against each sub-task i.e. for an assignment: research; research evaluation; draft copy; and final copy.
  • Try doing the most difficult things when you feel at your best.
  • Remember the unexpected always happens, so be flexible and don’t get angry when plans have to change. Just change them 😉

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN CONTROL!

Download the time management planning sheets and guide here – HSfB Time Management Tool

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