7 secrets to better time management

Learn how to manage your time effectively for better productivity, even with a busy schedule, writes Valerie Delforge

There is no magic to time management. Discipline and consistency have to become your best friend. It is important to visualise what you want to do with the extra time that you will gain; it motivates you to stop procrastinating. You also need to accept that you will never finish your “to do” list as you will add to it as you tick things off. Once you have come to terms with that, you will be able to create a process to generate efficiency within your daily routine.

1. Make time management a priority: a simple statement, but if you don’t make it a priority to get yourself better organised, it will just not happen.

2. Create one "to do" list: Draw up one list with a column for your workload and another for personal matters. It is important to put both your personal and business lists together. That way you are focussing on both and achieve a work/life balance. Stop starting lists all over the place – one on your phone, one in a notepad – group everything together so you can see the big picture.

3. Draw a timeline: Get a yearly calendar and put down set dates, such as monthly team meetings. Then you can work out when you need to prepare, when you can fit in your holidays and so on.

4. Prioritise your priorities: This is the most difficult rule to follow because when you are busy everything is a priority. But if you write down your tasks and look at the calendar, you will know where to start. Be realistic; you cannot do everything in one day. The more pressure you put on yourself the less efficient you become.

5. Do weekly updates: Every Monday, update your “to do” list. Assess what you want to do for the week per day. For example, “on Tuesday I am dealing with the staff rota, on Wednesday I will create the marketing plan, Thursday is a day off”.

6. Brain dump: Carry a little book with you at all times and write down everything you think of. This way you’re freeing your brain from stressing about all the things you want to do. When you do your weekly update, take from this list what is most important. You will end up being very creative.

7. Manage time killers: Time killers come in various forms; for example, the customer who wants to chat for ages, the therapist who wants to tell you about her night out. It is down to you to manage them. It’s crucial that you focus on one task at a time: turn off your phone and email notifications and dedicate your full attention to the task you choose. Give yourself one to two hours and just do just that. You will be very efficient. As for that chatty therapist, manage her expectations: “I have five minutes for you”. Spend more time with her later, when you can, to keep her happy, but you decide when that is because you are in charge of your time. Time management is at the centre of everything you do and ultimately gives you freedom. Whether you are an early riser or not, it’s the process that matters.

Valerie Delforge is a spa and salon business consultant. She has worked in the beauty industry for over 25 years, in roles including head of spa operation for Steiner and general manager of Bliss. She is now working with Wahanda to launch a training academy.