It’s October! Can you believe it? It seems only yesterday we were enjoying the summer sun of January. Where has the time gone?
It often seems that not only do we look back on our year and wonder “Where has the time gone”, but we also reflect similarly on our days and weeks when we reflect on our lists of “to-do’s”.
Time management for a Mystery Shopper is paramount. It is importance in order to juggle as many jobs as effectively as possible and perform well while still maintaining a healthy balance of life and work.
This month at Market Viewpoint we are focusing on that very topic kicking it off today with 5 Principles of Time Management! So without further adieu let’s dive right into them with #1:
- Have a plan for your time: If you start work each day “winging it” without a very clear idea of the tasks you need to get done in a given day – expect to look back and wonder how going to the post office and picking up the kids from school has magically taken up the majority of your day.
The best advice is to always plan ahead – but be sure not to overwhelm yourself. Keep your to-do list manageable, even if you have to plan several days in advance to space out the tasks you have to get done.
Some people plan for the entire week – we recommend planning for tomorrow the night before, or first thing each morning before you officially begin your day.
- Set Deadlines: There is a belief that a task will expand to the allowed time window it is given. You’ve seen this happen yourself I’m sure! Think back to the last time you were given a week to do something… I bet it took you a week to do. Conversely, think of when you had only an hour to do a task which can often take you two or more hours to perform because you HAD to get it done in an hour… I bet you got it done.
Setting deadlines for yourself will help you to manage your tasks. It forces you to review what the immediate tasks are for you to complete and if you set short deadlines for yourself, you will be amazed at how quickly you can do things… with quality work being produced.
- Have a set ending time: As a mystery shopper, if you have several store jobs you are shopping for, it can be easy to devote a lot of time to one project to work on completion of that one job before moving on to the next one.
That says great things for the ability to complete a project… but chances are once you finish that ONE project, you already are going to feel behind on your other ones.
In a polling of traits among Fortune 500 CEO’s, one trait that was prominent among a vast majority of them was “setting end times” for projects and tasks – even if they are not finished.
For example, give yourself 1-2 hours to work on a job report compiling and conveying your notes. At the end of that time, even if you are not yet finished, move on to something else and schedule another piece of time tomorrow or the next day.
This prevents you from devoting all of your time to a single task and falling behind in other areas of your life or work.
- Group tasks together: Use the method of “batching” when it comes to doing tasks that are consistent and take up a set amount of time every time you perform them.
For example, if you know that when you check your mail that it will take you 10 minutes to go through – get a P.O. box and check it twice a week or even three times a week. You will find that it STILL only takes you 10 minutes to go through, sort, pay bills, etc. But now, using the principle of batching, you are only spending 20-30 minutes on mail each week versus 60 minutes every week.
Batching can be applied to almost everything that occurs with consistency – have some fun coming up with ways that you use it, and by all means, please share with us on Facebook because we would love to hear!
- Know where your time is going: If knowledge is power, then time tracking is the number one way to prevent you from wasting your time.
If you have a smart phone, download the app “Hours Tracker” and use it religiously. With this program you can look back on a daily basis, weekly, or even monthly and see what the different jobs are you spent time on. Get creative! Put in there “Grocery shopping” or “Chauffeuring the kids to practice” and you’ll get a very quick picture for where your time goes.
If you work a lot online – sign up for the free version of RescueTime and you will get a very clear picture of where the time you spend on your computer is going.