12 Time Management Tips
Are you currently struggling with your time management skills? If you are looking for some inspiration check out the below guide on some tips to manage your time better.
Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between tasks.
When we don’t manage our time properly, our productivity drops, and our stress increases. Poor time management can leave you feeling busier than you actually are – and being busy and being productive are two different things.
A lot of people believe that they are managing their time reasonably well, but we can always find new and better ways to improve. This guide can be a good reminder to get you back on track.
- Make a record of how you spend your day
At the beginning of your time management overhaul, start by making a list of everything that you do in a day and how long it takes you to complete each task.
Try doing this over the course of a week, to accurately reflect how you spend your time at work day-to-day. You do not have to show anyone else this record. By being honest and accurate as possible can ultimately help you improve.
Now that you have established a record of your day-to-day tasks you can now use this to your advantage to make your day work better.
- Create a to-do list
Now onto the no-brainer. Create a to-do list of tasks that you need to complete. No matter how good your memory is the smallest of tasks can slip through the cracks.
Go through and break down any major projects into smaller and more manageable tasks. Even if you know mentally what those smaller steps are, it is best to have all smaller tasks written down. The process of crossing an item off of your to-do list can motivate you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Not sure if you’ve missed anything? Have a look through your calendar (past, present, and future), previous meeting notes, previous projects as well as your email inbox and phone notes app for tasks that may have slipped your mind.
- Prioritize what is most urgent and important
Take a look at your daily to-do list and identify what needs to get done urgently. Put aside the unimportant items, or delegate where possible/appropriate. If you have difficulty deciding what is most important: ask yourself what is necessary to fulfill your other tasks or what needs to be completed before someone else completed their task on a big project.
While you check your to-do list for items to complete today, don’t forget that other items can pop up throughout the day. When you are creating your to-do list for the day don’t forget to “zoom-out”, look at your calendar and see what is coming up in the pipeline in the next couple of days/weeks/next month. This way you can plan smaller manageable chunks of time to be dedicated to a project rather than having something jump out unexpectedly at you.
Also – don’t try to squeeze more by multitasking as this isn’t more productive than tackling things one at a time.
- Pick the key goals for each day
Focus on what your key goals are, these goals will be what stimulates productivity because you are motivated by your wins.
Pick something that is of “high value” – this is, that it will have the most positive impact on you, your team, and your client. If you did nothing else that day but make a bit of progress on that “one goal” you would still feel accomplished or like you have made progress on an important goal.
If you try and fit lots of little things in first, your “most important thing” will end up happening at the end of the day when you’re tired (or not at all).
- Time block your week
Time-block each part of your day (and be realistic). Allow plenty of time for each task as it is better to run ahead of schedule than behind.
Treat each time block as a deadline to ensure you complete each task during this time. Keep everything in your calendar, schedule everything in your day, and refer to your calendar when making your to-do lists (and prioritizing them).
When choosing a style of calendar be very particular as it needs to be easily maintained. But you also want to choose a calendar that works for your style of work rather than making do with any plain calendar.
- Take breaks to refresh your mind
When time-blocking your calendar you need to ensure that you are also scheduling regular breaks. It may seem counter-intuitive to take more breaks to get more done, but it works. When you return upon having a break you will feel more refreshed, and be able to focus on the task at hand, and produce better quality work.
In your scheduled breaks make sure that you are doing something unrelated. For example, if you are looking at looks of numbers for most of the day, do something image-related or if you’ve been looking at a screen all day, go outside and look at nature (avoid your phone during this time).
- Make plans at the end of the day, something to look forward to.
Time management isn’t just about work. Having a reward once your daily tasks can be a big incentive. It doesn’t have to be big or flashy, it can be something that you are genuinely looking forward to such as a favourite snack or show or even a walk in the park or catching up with a friend at a certain time.
By having this ‘reward’ you will want to be more efficient with your time to ensure you can go and enjoy that reward.
- Turn off notifications and distractions
In this day and age, we are constantly being bombarded with distractions in every direction, and it can be difficult to tune everything else out. When scheduling your time blocks also ensure that you scheduling in time to check and deal with emails or your phone, otherwise have your phone switched off or being placed in a draw if you believe it is too distracting.
This should also help you avoid multitasking and stay focused on one task at a time.
- Small changes can make a big difference
Making small changes such as improving your work environment so it is less distracting. Find yourself a calendar system that you like and works for you. Try getting up half an hour, or an hour earlier, so you are in a more alert and better mindset once you start your day. Eliminate multitasking – make an intentional effort to do only one task at a time.
These little things will add up and will allow you more time in your day to achieve what you want.
- Document processes
A big-time management tip can be to document your processes. This can be a big tip due to if you need to take unexpected leave and you have a big project coming up, having your processes documented means a co-worker can jump in and assist you when needed. By this happening can mean upon your return you should not have as big of a mammoth to-do list.
Also by having your processes documented your productivity is scalable. Having proper processes eases delegation, saves time, manages expectations, which will help you and others be more efficient.
- Review at the end of the day
At the end of your day have a very quick once-over of your to-do list can be helpful. You can identify what you have done well, and can also pinpoint the tasks that may have slipped through the cracks and put them on the priority list for tomorrow.
- As a team, give each other deadlines and time-frames.
If you ask for assistance from another team member, don’t leave it open-ended. Help each other by indicating when you need the task completed. That way, the other person can work it in with their other tasks more effectively, and you know exactly when to expect the work to come to you and you can plan accordingly. Be realistic and appropriate, don’t give them unreasonable and unrealistic deadlines, and don’t exaggerate the urgency of something if you do not need it straight away.
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