Improve Your Time Management Skills: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Becoming productive with your time is about seeking to make an improvement in the way your work is performed. Thus, once you put effort in improving your time management skills, you get better results. Time management is a struggle for many people these days – we all have so much do to at work and in our personal lives, and so little time to make it all happen. Even more so if you are a manager or an entrepreneur, then you have to constantly balance between your own and your team’s needs. But we all have 24-hours in a day, so how some people seem to use every minute of it?
Do you also want to learn how to become a master of your time? You should start by applying the following tips to your everyday life!
- Monitor your time
To learn how to divide your time most effectively, you need to understand what you waste your time on in the first place. For instance, you may believe that you check your Facebook only for a moment, but once you start auditing your time, you might very quickly realize that the ‘quick look’ actually lasts for half an hour.
Once you find out what’s eating-up your precious time, it will be easier to made appropriate adjustments. Also, just like solving many other problems, some technological help is always available. You can download apps like RescueTime or Calendar to help you track everything you do. If your to-do list is in disarray, then Trello may be perfect for you.
- Make a schedule
This seems like a very straightforward suggestion, however, many of us fail to properly organize our days and weeks in advance. Of course, none of us can avoid occasional surprises, but having a well-made plan will save you a great deal of time. When you find yourself not having a schedule, it is very likely you will wonder aimlessly or perform the tasks that are not the most urgent.
When planning ahead it is a good idea to always schedule activities for the following day. For example, before you leave your office, you should consider spending the last few minutes making a list of the most important tasks for tomorrow. Alternatively, scheduling your daily tasks can also be the first thing you do in the morning. If you see no trouble waking up 10 minutes earlier and making a plan for the day as one of your morning routine activities, then you should do this instead. One way or another, you should always have a schedule in front of you.
You must figure out which activities will deliver the best results and make sure you prioritize them over less important tasks. This might also help you devote your entire focus to the task at hand and avoid multitasking. Starting your work from the top activity regarding urgency and importance will help you stay focused. That is, of course, only if you close all unnecessary tabs, put your phone away and find a quiet place to work. Let’s face it, our minds work better when we are able to focus on one thing at a time. You have to promise yourself to be fully engaged in the task at hand. For example, if you’re writing a monthly report, make sure to not be checking your phone for no reason, or while talking to your colleague on the phone, don’t be responding to emails. Otherwise, it will take you twice as long to achieve half as much.
However, if you are waiting in a queue at a store or sitting in a waiting room, you can find multiple ways to use this time wisely. Maybe you need to catch up on your reading for a class or get an update on the new product your company is launching, whatever that is, if you can use the waiting time, always do so.
Also, get help from others by learning to delegate certain tasks to your team members at work, or ask for help from your partner and friends when having some issues in your personal life.
- Get organized
According to the Pixie Lost & Found survey, the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items. Collectively Americans spend around $2.7 billion annually in replacement costs. Thus, being organized might save you a lot of time and money. Make sure that all your work documents and files as well as your schedule and to-do list are organized and easily accessible.
As human brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break, you should always take a short moment every couple of hours to get yourself a cup of tea, clean your desk from unnecessary papers and cross check the tasks that you have already completed. It will make you feel more motivated, and clean environment will boost your productivity.
- Set some boundaries
You might need to consider informing your friends, family and team members when you are not available if you constantly get disturbed and distracted. It is understandable that you don’t want to sound rude, but it is absolutely up to you how to communicate to people around you. If you politely explain to them which hours of the day you don’t want to be disturbed, there are very good chances they will understand.
Also, learn to say ‘no’. If you are busy, it is better to decline a dinner invitation or tell people you can’t help solving their problems for the time being. People can’t read your mind and you must communicate clearly about your boundaries with them. As long as do so, you will never find yourself behind on work.
- DON’T procrastinate
Never leave any task for tomorrow if you can still do it today. When trying to improve your time management skills, this should be your motto. In fact, you can even upgrade it from time to time – if you manage to finish all today’s tasks with still some time to spare, don’t think twice and start working on tomorrow’s tasks immediately. In this case, you might surprise yourself how much you can achieve by the end of the day, and that week your weekend my start even slightly earlier.
In case you are not that successful some week, and you find yourself struggling with inspiration, use some motivational sources, like a TED Talk. Find a source of motivation that works best for you, maybe reading some biography in the evenings, motivational quotes, or looking at a picture of your dream holiday destination? Anything that makes you work harder to achieve your daily goal(s).
Time management requires planning, a strong attitude, determination, discipline and possibly some help of tech tools too. But if you get it right, it will eventually become just another habit, which will increase your productivity and lower stress levels.
Try these tips and take a full control of your time. If you wish for more advice on how to improve your or your team’s time management skills, get in touch with us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or keep an eye on our following self-development workshops here.