Do you often find yourself stressing out at work and just wishing there were more hours in the day? Do you find yourself to ticking one task off your list, only to end up adding five more to your never-ending pile of to-dos?
If you can relate, you’ve come to the right place.
In today’s fast-paced working environment, it’s easy to get snowed under piling workloads, with no light at the end of the tunnel to be seen. This is where effective time management skills come into play, which is why we’ve created this list of tips to help you work more productively and efficiently.
As the age-old saying goes: work smarter, not harder.
Here’s how to improve your time management skills!
1. Clear the Clutter
With all those towering piles of paper, finding anything would be a miracle. It’s time to clear the clutter by getting organised and tidying your desk – and rediscovering what an organised desk looks like in the process. This will effectively avoid you being easily distracted by your surroundings and help you actually get down to business. It will also eliminate the time needed to search for misplaced important documents. To achieve this, a good idea would be to create a filing system for yourself or a spreadsheet with all your ongoing and pending projects.
2. Write it Down
Most of us are guilty of massively overthinking, and it always seems to happen when we’re trying to focus on one simple thing. For example, you could be working on a budget report when, suddenly, you start thinking about what you should cook for dinner or how you should start putting your presentation together. The best thing to do is to write these thoughts down in your diary – this will help you ‘unload’ the information from your brain and go back to your work, effectively improving your work efficiency in the process.
3. Create a To-Do List
Begin your week by creating a list of all the items you need to accomplish by Friday afternoon. This will help you create an action plan for each day, allowing time for any last-minute changes or emergencies.
Many people find themselves struggling with their workloads when they fail to prioritise tasks. It’s important to identify what’s top priority and to handle those tasks firsts. You might even want to consider using a number or colour system to keep on track of everything.
5. Create a Schedule
Now that you’ve become an expert at making to-do lists, it’s time to start ticking off items. A great way to do this is to give yourself an allotted time to complete each item and generally creating a schedule to help you keep on track of things. You might also want to consider setting yourself a reminder 15 minutes before the task is due to pop up on your computer screen.
6. Break Down Tasks
Some tasks are really difficult to tackle head-on, so we often put them on the backburner and neglect them. If you find yourself doing this, why not consider breaking the task down into bite-sized errands? (Remember to complete one project before you move onto the next one!)
7. Plan for Interruptions
Let’s face it: things don’t always go to plan, especially when you’re working in a busy environment or industry, where last-minute projects or issues can creep out of the woodwork. Make sure you factor in time in your day for such interruptions, like late-night meetings or long client calls.
8. Screen Phone Calls
Certain workplaces won’t agree with this, but if you’re extremely busy and are working on a tight deadline for an important project, the last thing you need is for your favourite (but very chatty) client to call you and disrupt your day. In this instance, try screening your calls for emergencies and only check your voicemails once you’ve ticked the task at hand off your list.
9. Avoid Multitasking
Some workers and even bosses believe that multitasking is an effective way to get things done but, in reality, it just divides your attention across a bunch of different things. This often leads to careless mistakes and more time spent jumping from one job to another, trying to remember what you have already completed.
10. Take Breaks
Although you may think you’re a work ninja that can get through an eight-hour day without taking a break from your computer screen, you’re forgetting that, whether you like it or not, your ability to focus will suffer. There’s been a wealth of research into the subject, all coming up with the same conclusion: taking frequent breaks at work is good for you, while you’ll also notice a boost in stamina and a decrease in aches and pains.
11. Set Personal Goals
By giving yourself personal goals, you’ll become more efficient and develop better time management skills. This can be achieved by setting yourself deadlines or additional tasks to complete to prove your value in the company and how you deserve the next promotion. Whatever it is, you’ll feel satisfied once you’ve reached your goal.
12. Learn to Say ‘No’
An example of poor time management is saying ‘yes’ to everything, even when you know you can’t complete the additional tasks in your normal working hours. If you find yourself doing this and staying late each day to finish your work, it’s important that you learn to start saying ‘no’ sometimes. Otherwise, you’ll end up jeopardising the quality of your work.
13. Reward Yourself
When you’ve accomplished something big, why not celebrate it by treating yourself to a nice lunch, a cup of coffee or even a cheeky drink with your colleagues after work. Don’t take advantage and do this every day for every little thing, though, as you’ll end up spending more time celebrating than actually completing your tasks. Remember: everything in moderation!
14. Get Some Tech Help
If you’re a tech geek, why not get some help from some trusted apps? There are a variety of time management apps out there that can help boost productivity and ensure you’re doing what needs to be done. A couple of the best are RescueTime and Toggl.
15. Never Stop Learning
It’s easy to stick with what you know because you know it already works, but you shouldn’t shut yourself out of learning new things. Your manager may give you advice on how to manage your time better; don’t ignore this valuable insight! Who knows? They may be able to offer you some solid advice that you, in turn, can pass on to your peers!
Developing great time management skills won’t happen overnight but if you keep practising these tips, you’ll enjoy a much more effective and stress-free workday.
Have you struggled with time management in the past? If so, let us know what you did to improve in this area in the comments section below…
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out what other professional skills are important in the workplace and for your overall career!