Ever felt like the day is running away from you? We all get 24 hours a day so why is it that some seem to achieve more in that 24 hours than others? The answer is simple. Some people manage their time better.
So how can you do the same and manage your time better? Good time management skills require some healthy habits and discipline and is one of the key contributors to why work life balance is important. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at time management. We’ll cover what time management is and what the benefits are. You’ll also find some tips that can help you better manage your time.
Time management definition: What is time management?
Time management is the process of planning how to spend your time between tasks. When done right, you can end up working smarter, not harder. This means you get more done in less time even when time is tight and the pressure is on.
6 tips for better time management
Three primary skills can separate time management success from failure. According to Harvard Business Review, these include:
- Awareness – Think realistically about your time. Try to understand that it is a limited resource
- Arrangement – Organize your goals, plans and schedules, and tasks in a way where you use your time effectively.
- Adaptation – Try to regularly monitor how you use your time when doing tasks. Include adjustments to interruptions and if priorities change.
If you’re ready to take control and better manage your time you need a good time management strategy. Here are some of the best time management tips to implement in your strategy.
How you’re spending your time
If you’re busy all day and still not getting enough done then it’s time to figure out where your time is going. Try tracking your daily activities for a week. This will help to let you know the following:
- How much you can get done in a day
- Identify what you spend time on the most
- Focus on activities that need immediate attention
As you do this, you will realize how much time you spend on unproductive activities. It will give you a better sense of how long you spend on certain tasks. Best of all, it lets you know what time of day you’re most productive. This is great since you know when to work on important projects that require your creativity and focus.
Try to be realistic when you estimate your time. At the end of the week, check to see how long a certain task took to complete vs how long you expected it to take. If there’s a huge difference, take it into account when planning your schedule. This way you can allocate your time better and avoid missed deadlines, etc.
Set up a daily schedule and stick to it
One of the best ways to manage time is to create a to-do list, that can also be a huge tip for improving work life balance. Do it first thing in the morning. Put everything down on paper and keep it in a place where you can see it at all times. Try to follow it as best as you can. You’ll spend less time creating a clear plan than the time you’ll lose jumping from task to task when you have no plan.
Prioritization is best for effective time management. When creating your task list, start by removing tasks that you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Identify two or three of your most important tasks and tackle those first. This way you get the essentials out of the way.
You can use a tip from Stephen Covey’s book First Thing First to do this. He mentions the time management matrix also known as the Eisenhower matrix. He puts it forward as an organizational tool that can help you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.
This time management matrix is split into 4 quadrants. These include:
- Urgent and important tasks – These are tasks that have important deadlines with high urgency. They require your immediate attention.
- Important but not urgent tasks – These tasks are important but do not require your immediate attention.
- Urgent but not important tasks – These tasks are urgent but not important. You should minimize or delegate them.
- Not urgent and unimportant tasks – These tasks have little to no value. They should be eliminated.
Once you can prioritize tasks correctly, you can reach a whole new level of time management. You’ll be able to tell where you need to focus your time during those days when the hours are running out. It may even help you to complete all the tasks on your list even difficult tasks.
Group related tasks together
Grouping and performing similar tasks together can help you complete tasks faster. Tasks like answering emails, making phone calls and filing can be grouped together. Set a specific amount of time to do these similar tasks. Try not to answer emails or messages as they come in. This can be distracting and result in lots of wasted time. You can try turning off your phone and email notifications completely. This will reduce the temptation to check your notifications at an unappointed time.
Reduce the urge to multitask
It can be hard to not multitask. We get a false sense of security because we feel we’re getting more done by tackling two tasks at once. However, it doesn’t work that way. You lose more time and decrease your productivity when switching from one task to another. You should stay focused on one task and block out all distractions.
on the same note, don’t get overwhelmed by your to-do list that’s a mile long. Stressing over it does not help or make it any shorter. Just breathe and tackle one task at a time.
Fix time limits for tasks
Your schedule should include time limits for tasks. To-do lists are awesome but you may feel like you can never get anything checked off.
To set a steady pace for your workflow, you can use the Pomodoro Technique. It can help you check off your to-do list in intervals of 25 minutes. You take short breaks between each interval. You then take longer breaks after completing four tasks. This technique can help to balance a narrow focus with frequent breaks. It can reduce mental strain and keep you motivated.
There’s also another option if you want to set your own pace. You can use a time management technique called timeboxing. It allows you to set aside a fixed time for planned activities. Step 1 can be an estimate of how long you expect a task to take you. Once that time on that task is up, you move on to your next vital task. Doing this will increase your productivity and have you checking off more things on your to-do list.
Breaks are essential when it comes to better time management. This may sound counterintuitive but research has proven otherwise. Regular breaks can increase productivity, mental health, decision-making, and memory. On the other hand, skipping breaks can lead to faster burnout and high levels of stress.
High-stress levels can affect your energy levels. It can also impact your cognition, productivity, and engagement at work. So as weird as it sounds, working less by taking more breaks can actually help you do more in less time.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
We are always trying to keep the people around us happy whether it’s in the workplace or outside of it. Learning when to say no can give you more free time to tackle your daily tasks. You’re the only one who knows what you have time for. If you need to decline a request to focus on more important tasks, then do so. If you have a project that’s going nowhere, feel free to let it go.
Before wasting time on tasks that yield little to no value, do fewer tasks that generate more value. The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of your output comes from 20% of your inputs. This rule can help you adjust your focus accordingly.
This is a much-needed task on your to-do list. Ever spent hours searching for a document on your desk when it’s piled high with papers scattered all over? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. This wastes precious time. Clutter can also make it hard to focus.
You’d be surprised how little things can make a big difference. You can create a filing system for your documents. Unsubscribe to emails that you no longer need. You can even automate repetitive tasks. Read up here about ways to automate your home services business. Putting time into organizing can increase your efficiency.
We’re constantly surrounded by distractions. The key is to block out time wasters as much as possible. You can start small and just block out two of your top distractions. Once you do that, you’ll find that it’ll be easier to block more distractions.
Benefits of time management in the workplace
According to Dodd and Subdheim, those who manage time effectively find that it:
- Increases productivity and the ability to tackle more tasks
- Gives them more energy and motivation to achieve their goals
- Frees up time to enjoy hobbies and other activities
- Makes them think more positively about life and others
- Help them feel better about themselves
Disadvantages of poor time management in the workplace
Poor time management skills can lead to:
- Missed deadlines and appointments
- Lack of focus
- Lack of professionalism
- Inefficient workflow and low-quality work
- Unwanted stress
- Poor professional reputation
- Strained relationships in the workplace
- Financial penalties
- Poor work-life balance
It is best to give yourself time when trying to manage your time better. Your time management strategies may even change with time or as your priorities change. Go slow, start small, and develop habits that benefit you. Practice them until they stick.
Find out how Scorpion can help you manage your time better. They have some of the best tips and tools that can help you make the most of your time.