Time management has become a more prominent topic since more and more people have started and continued to work from home over the past year and a half. However, everyone can benefit from improving their time management skills.
What Are the Benefits of Effective Time Management?
While there’s no real downside to learning to manage your time more effectively, there are many benefits.
More time. Even though it’s important to be realistic to remember that there will always be 24 hours in a day, managing your time more effectively will leave you with more time to start new hobbies.
Reduced stress levels. Planning, goal-setting, and the other activities discussed in this article will lead to reductions in your overall stress level. Rushing to finish projects as the clock counts down to the deadline is one of the most stressful parts of any job, but can be avoided with the right strategies and enough practice.
Higher work quality. Pacing yourself and breaking bad habits (such as rushing for deadlines and procrastinating) will allow you to perform better in the workplace. Additionally, practicing the skills involved with time management will help you to learn about your own strengths, weaknesses, and ideal workflow, so you can adapt accordingly.
10 Tips for Managing Your Time More Effectively
There’s no magic formula for improving your time management. Time management is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice. Some people may be more naturally adept at time management, while others may have no idea where to start, but no matter where you’re starting, everyone can improve.
Figure out how you are spending your time now. Effective time management isn’t about squeezing more tasks into shorter periods of time to get more done. It’s about making the most of your time by completing important work and other responsibilities. You might be surprised at how much time you spend doing busywork, answering emails, and other low-priority tasks. Using the timer on your phone, or an app like toggl, keep track of how much time you spend doing what. Consider outsourcing or delegating less important tasks where possible.
Evaluate your current organization systems. If you have to spend twenty minutes first thing in the morning tidying up the mess you left on your desk last night, or ten minutes looking for a file on your computer, you may find yourself demotivated. Being more organized will not only save time but also significant amounts of energy.
Use your “waiting time” wisely. There will be times when a client is late for a meeting or you’re held up from driving home by severe weather. Use this time for low-effort tasks such as answering emails, or enriching activities, like reading.
Adopt a strong routine. There will be times when you lose steam or don’t feel as motivated as you usually do in the office for any number of reasons beyond your control. Having a strong routine in place and making a strong workflow habit will allow you to push through periods of demotivation with relative ease.
Keep certain activities for certain parts of the day. Get in the habit of limiting how much time you spend answering emails, as this is one of the biggest time-wasters in office settings. It may be helpful to spend half an hour in the morning answering as many emails as you can and then leaving your emails alone until after your lunch break.
Start your day by prioritizing. Put simply, prioritizing means figuring out what is most important to get done. It is a good idea to spend the first fifteen to twenty minutes of your day making a list of what you need to get done
Give yourself mini-deadlines. Long-term project deadlines can quickly get away from you, allowing you to procrastinate and then have to rush. If you have a large project to complete, break it down into its pieces and give yourself weekly and daily deadlines to complete.
Put time limits on your tasks. It is well-established that a task will eat up however much time you allocate to it. Assign time limits to certain tasks, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can accomplish them.
Keep your work at work. If you’ve spent the majority of your weekend answering emails and thinking about work, chances are you don’t feel like you’ve had any sort of rest. This will demotivate you and lead to lower productivity during the week, which might result in having to take work home with you again. It is therefore important to break this cycle as soon as possible.
Don’t forget to set goals. Goal-setting is an important skill in any workplace, but the process of setting and completing goals has been linked to higher overall well-being and life satisfaction. In addition to setting goals for what you want to get done each week and each day, set goals for your time management itself as you would when learning any other skill. For example, you might want to focus on establishing a solid routine for one week, and on developing good planning and prioritization skills.