WE ARE all faced with too much to do these days. But one person’s challenge may not be the same as someone else’s.

To really maximise the use of your time, you need to have a good understanding about what your unique time management challenges are.

As you review the following 12 time management competencies, ask yourself how well you think you are doing in each of them:

1. Analysing

Do you know where your time is actually going? Where are your time management “leaks” that take up so much of your day?

Know what they are so that you can prevent them from draining your focus and your effort.

2. Attitudes

Do you feel you can control your time, or do you feel like a victim who can never get on top of it all?

You need to take charge of your time to take the actions necessary to control it.

3. Delegation

You don’t need to be a manager to delegate. In today’s world, team members delegate tasks to one another, and everyone is involved.

You need to determine what you can delegate, whom you can delegate it to and the best approach to take with that person.

4. Goals

Do you know what your most important long-term goals are? Determine what is really important and then commit it to a written plan. This will help move you forward with conviction to accomplish it.

5. Interruptions

Is your day filled with constant interruptions? Is it difficult to stay on track because of them?

In some instances, you may be setting yourself up to be easily interrupted (for example, you start a conversation with every colleague who passes by your desk).

Learn to take control of these interruptions and have the ability to accomplish what is really important.

6.  Meetings

Do your meetings run well? Do they begin with a clear agenda and stick to the time allotted?

If not, make sure that everyone in the meeting understands why good meeting management is important and structure your meetings differently going forward.

7. Planning

Do you prepare a plan each week that helps you stay focused on your most important activities? What about a daily to-do list?

Both of these should list your most important activities to accomplish first. Just be sure to allow some flexibility in your schedule for the “unexpected” things to pop up.

8. Priorities

Can you recognise the difference between what is really important to do and the many urgent things that cross your desk?

Identify what is really important, not just urgent, and then make sure those things are included in your weekly plan. Limit them to your three most important priorities for the week to stay on track.

Don’t allow the trivial things to crowd out your really important things.

9. Procrastination

When you are really honest with yourself, can you admit to procrastinating more than you should?

When you begin to recognise that you are doing it, you are more likely to take action.

Break it down into smaller, shorter steps and get started. You will probably recognise that it is not so difficult after all.

10. Scheduling

Do you schedule “quiet time” during your day for important work or daily planning?

This can be a short or longer period of time, but it allows you to accomplish more with fewer interruptions.

Also, if you prepare tomorrow’s schedule before you leave work today, you won’t risk starting your day by reacting before you consider what is really important.

11. Team time

Are you aware of the need to conserve the time of others on your team? Have your team members discussed the best way to not distract or waste one another’s time?

If not, make sure you discuss with them the best way to reduce interruptions and barriers to team productivity.

12. Written communication

Do you feel buried beneath paperwork and e-mail? Do you feel everything is piling up?

Screen and sort all incoming communications: take action, read, file or trash. Then develop criteria for what to respond to and what to discard or delegate.

Once you have identified where your primary time challenge areas are, start to take the actions necessary to manage them effectively. When you do, you’ll be amazed at how much more in control you feel, not to mention how much more productive you’ll be!