Time. There’s never enough in a day to get everything done. Balancing all your priorities and tasks against the clock can feel impossible, but there are techniques you can employ to help manage the time you do have. In honor of National Time Management Month, we thought we’d share a few tips about how you can develop more effective time management skills.
Set Goals: Setting goals for yourself concerning what you want to accomplish, both long-term and short-term, is a great strategy for creating direction. For long-term goals it can sometimes be easier to break the large goal down into smaller goals – this makes the goal less daunting because you have steps to focus on instead of one massive goal. Your goals can focus on specific projects or tasks or they can focus on addressing a personal habit that might be interrupting your workday, such as checking social media during work hours.
Track How You Spend Your Time: It is difficult, if not impossible, to change behaviors that you don’t realize are even a problem. By honestly tracking how you currently spend your time, you can determine problem areas where you are devoting more time than you should be, especially during your workday. Incorporate your findings into the goals you build for yourself.
Implement Tools and Strategies: A multitude of tools exist to help you track and manage your time commitments and goals. Utilizing a planner, a calendar app, or a software program to schedule your time is a great place to start. Your calendar should include time to plan your schedule and assess your progress towards your goals. Researching and implementing time management philosophies and systems can also prove helpful. Why reinvent the wheel? If you find a system that someone else has utilized that if effective for you, work off from that framework.
Prioritize: You will, despite your best efforts, likely have some planned tasks that are not completed on some days. Before diving into your to-do list, you should have a solid understanding of what your top priorities are and work through your list beginning with the highest priorities. Sometimes you may not finish all the items, but at least you have finished the most important ones.
Create Routines: By nature, humans are more comfortable with habit and routine and find change difficult. In order to improve your time management and productivity, you will have to change some behaviors. While this may be difficult at first, intentionally creating a new routine to follow each day will help you stick to your ultimate time management goals.
Set Time Limits: Some tasks, such as checking email, could consume your whole day if you let them. Instead, schedule time for these tasks and limit yourself to only the allotted time. This may mean that you don’t answer every email immediately, but it will allow you to focus and more effectively utilize your time on other tasks.
Delegate: Utilize the talent you have around you, on the job or at home. Pass tasks and projects to others if they are capable, more efficient, or have more time available. You are not responsible for doing everything on your own.
Organize Your Workspace: This applies to both your physical workspace and your device workspace. If you have a cluttered environment, you will waste more time looking for what you need than it might take you to accomplish the task at hand. Clean up!
Don’t Waste Time Waiting: Sometimes we have to wait, whether that be on a meeting to start, on an appointment with the doctor, or on the train. Utilize this time wisely. Instead of just sitting doing nothing or engaging in a task that wastes your time, use it as time to catch up or complete important tasks.