If you’re struggling to manage your time, you need to develop better time management skills.
It might feel like an impossible feat or simply too much effort but don’t despair, we have some ideas that might help you improve.
Imagine the things you would do if you had more time. Think about all of the ways you could use your time if you could temporarily pause it. Where would you go? What would you do? What would you learn? The answers to these questions are probably the things you should be doing because these are the things you want to do. How about spending more time living your life outside of the office? Is your time devoted to family and friends, do you have hobbies outside of work, do you remember to spend time by yourself? There are a few tips you can use to make your day longer.
Effective time management methods differ for each person. What works for one person will not necessarily work for someone with a different kind of personality. So let’s experiment. Try new things, vary solutions until you improve your time management skills.
1. Find out how much time you are wasting — note down all your activities.
Give yourself a week to explore what activities you spend your time doing. Start by keeping a diary of all of your activities this week, whether it is conversations, analyses, writing reports, or just thinking about the tasks that need doing. Be sure not to forget to note down how much time each activity has taken.
This will help you understand how much you can do during the day and how much time you spend on specific tasks. You will see which actions lead to concrete results and which were completely unproductive.
2. Plan and set priorities.
What should the last activity that you perform each day be? Planning your next day!
Once you’ve planned for tomorrow, you can enjoy the rest of today. This might help you get a better night’s sleep as it’s the basis for productivity levels during the day. Your plan could also be made at the beginning of the day — what really counts is getting things done. When scheduling tasks, you should set priorities, 20% of the action usually translates into 80% of the results (Pareto principle).
Therefore, try to determine which tasks are most important and start with them. Are you having trouble setting priorities? Split tasks into those that are important and urgent using the so-called Eisenhower’s matrix. Eisenhower was the American president who said: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
3. Set goals and verify achievements.
Take a few minutes to think about what you want to accomplish by completing a task. If you can’t think of anything, move onto another task temporarily. This will allow you to determine what kind of final result can be considered a success. After completing a task, take a few more minutes to evaluate it. Was the goal achieved? If not, think about why and use those conclusions to do better.
4. Know yourself.
Get to know yourself. Find out what time of day you are most productive. If you need to split your work day, split it. Whatever works for you. There isn’t a method that suits everyone, you just have to figure it out for yourself. Some people are better at working in the morning and some prefer working after lunch or at night. Save the most difficult tasks for the time you know you’re most effective as they need your full potential.
5. Assertiveness is good for you.
When you have to focus on a task, don’t let it get to you if you’re distracted. We don’t work in a vacuum and more often than not, someone might need something from us. Although it can be hard to get back to work, determine whether the situation is an emergency, is our input needed immediately, or can the problem wait until we finish working on our current task.
6. Multitasking is bad for you.
A lot of people are slowly realizing that, in today’s rushed world, multitasking is not a good idea. By doing too many things at once, nothing is done well. Monotask. Focus on one task at a time and accomplish it. Multitasking is the enemy of productivity. When we start with too many tasks at the same time, our mind tries to focus on too many details and jumps from one task to another. You’ll waste a lot of time and energy trying to remember the details of each task instead of concentrating on them one at a time.
7. Stop constantly checking your email.
All messages are important, but some messages are more important than others. Learn to tell which ones need your immediate attention and do not concern yourself with the others for the time being. Constantly checking your inbox makes you lose focus and draws your attention away from the task at hand. Unfortunately, the same goes for social media and Slack.
8. Fight disorder.
If mess annoys you and decreases your productivity, tidy up your workspace. This doesn’t only apply to the mess on your desk. Working on your computer is much more frustrating when your documents, both offline and online, are not in proper order. Saving files to your desktop may be the quickest way, but you should also consider the time you spend searching for them. We’ve written a blog post about decluttering your digital workspace to assist you.
9. Learn to delegate tasks.
Of course, not everyone can afford the comfort of hiring co-workers but take into account that your time is very valuable. Sometimes, it is much cheaper to outsource tasks than to work on them alone. Especially when it comes to tasks we’re not confident or knowledgeable to undertake, someone else could do them better and faster. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
10. Try to work slowly.
Contrary to popular opinion, trying to work as quickly as possible will not produce positive results. Slow down, work at your own, optimal pace. Remember that you cannot do everything on your own! Many people take on too many tasks in a very short amount of time.
Effective time management mostly relies on its optimal use in the consistent pursuit of your goal. This can involve a specific task, a long-term activity or rest. The art of good time management is not a gift with which one is born but rather a skill that can be developed.
Is there anything you’d like to add, have we missed anything? If you’re interested in sharing your experiences with us or writing a guest post for us, send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org!
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