“Time management is an important skill, involving dividing your tasks and activities across the time you have available. Effective time management will give you more control over getting your tasks complete and performing at your best. With many people now spending more time working from home and the increasing popularity of working a 4 day week, effective time management is more important than ever. Here are our top 10 time management tips.
1. Evaluate how you use your time
Split your workday into 30-minute sections and make a note of how you spend each 30-minute section over the course of a week.
Once you have determined exactly what you spend your time doing, you may find that you are wasting time without even realising it. Are you getting pulled into tasks that aren’t a priority for you? Or have you spent an extra 20 minutes at the end of every Zoom call catching up with colleagues? Make an effort to reclaim this time and you’ll be surprised how much longer you have to complete important tasks.
2. Limit digital distractions
Do you find yourself picking up your phone to check your social media frequently? Or getting lost in your email inbox after replying to a simple question? These digital distractions can take huge chunks out of your work day. Place your personal phone in a drawer that’s out of reach and aim to check your emails just a few times a day, perhaps relying on an instant messaging platform if a client or customer needs to be able to reach you with urgency.
By limiting digital distractions, not only will you have more time to focus on your work, but you’ll also be able to keep up the momentum you build whilst getting tasks complete.
3. Ensure your workspace is organised
Having an organised workspace means that physical distractions are reduced and that you won’t need to spend hours looking through stacks of paper on your desk looking for something you need. A desk that is free from clutter will make it far easier for you to concentrate on your work.
As well as your desk, the contents of your laptop should also be well organised. Keep your documents in suitable folders so that you aren’t wasting time searching for important files.
4. Prioritise your tasks
If you start the day with a full to-do list, you’ll almost instantly feel bogged down and probably won’t know where to start!
Before starting work in the morning, or even the night before, organise your tasks into a list based on priority. That way, you’ll get the most essential tasks complete first and anything you don’t get around to doing can be done the following day without a negative consequence. It is also important to learn to delegate any tasks that you shouldn’t really be working on.
5. Group similar tasks
If you have a number of similar tasks to complete on the same day, or even during the same week, try to allocate enough time to get them all done one after the other. This will prevent you from going backwards and forwards to complete tasks that require similar skills or input.
6. Plan your day around your optimal performance times or golden hours
Are there certain jobs you struggle to complete straight after lunch because you feel too sluggish? Or things you enjoy doing before going home? Try to build some awareness around your ‘golden hours’.
Plan your tasks with your performance in mind, if you like to check your emails for 15 minutes at the end of the day, stick to that, and don’t get caught doing it mid-afternoon. If you have a task that requires you to be creative, but you struggle to find inspiration before you’ve eaten, schedule it for first thing in the morning once you’ve had your breakfast or when you get back after lunch.
Always schedule the most difficult tasks for when you are at your most productive. This limits the amount of time you spend procrastinating and means your tasks are likely to get completed more quickly.
7. Block out time on your calendar
When you have important tasks to complete, block out the required time in your calendar so that your colleagues know you are unavailable. This will make interruptions less likely.
8. Set time limits on your tasks
It’s easy to get caught up in something you are working on and before you know it, a few hours have passed. If a task should only take an hour, set yourself an alarm and aim to get it done before the time is up – that way your mind will see it as a challenge and you won’t spend an excessive amount of time going over and over the same task.
This tip not only protects time allocated to other tasks but also protects your personal time such as breaks and the end of the day.
9. Don’t be tempted to multi-task
It can be tempting to start working on a few things at the same, but switching between tasks means you lose momentum and have to build yourself back up mentally to start working on the task each time.
Multi-tasking can also mean you are more open to being distracted as your focus switches and more likely to make mistakes due to having ‘crossed wires’.
10. Always mark off your ‘complete’ tasks
When you have a lot of tasks on your list, it’s important to tick or cross items off as you complete them. This will give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to carry on working through your tasks.
If you are finding it difficult to complete all of your tasks during the work day, or are needing to skip your lunch break in order to get everything done, why not give some of these time management tips at work a try? By managing your time more effectively you will find that you are performing better, have lower stress levels and have more self-confidence at work.
By: Richard Edwards
Published: 10th August 2022