Good time management skills have been shown to present numerous benefits for employees and organisations. Employees can experience greater focus, productivity and success, coupled with lower levels of stress. This leads to greater work-life balance and happier employees. For organisations, this means greater profitability and overall long-term success for the company.
Despite the apparent benefits, many people struggle to improve their time management skills. Luckily, there are many simple techniques and tips you can try to help better your time management. Keep reading to find out more.
What is time management?
Time management is about organising your time and allocating it to doing certain activities so that you can work more efficiently. When you develop your time management skills, you’ll find that you can work smarter, not harder, so that you can achieve your goals quicker and easier.
Why is time management important?
In the working world, time equals money. Having effective time management skills is incredibly important and presents numerous benefits. Organising your time helps you to focus better, resulting in higher productivity levels. This, in turn, reduces stress levels while also improving employees’ confidence and work-life balance.
Additionally, planning your time efficiently helps you to prioritise the most important tasks, set achievable goals and delegate tasks where necessary. This will all help organisations and employees to make better decisions, be more organised, leverage their time more effective and spend less time wasted on unimportant tasks.
7 Time management techniques & tips
Developing your time management skills can clearly have several benefits. Luckily, you can easily improve your time management by following these seven techniques and tips.
1. Figure out how you’re spending your time
Before you start to optimise your time management, you first need to take a look at how you’re currently using this precious resource. You can simply do this by tracking your time over the course of a week.
Doing this will help you to determine what you can typically achieve in a day’s work, identify how much time you’re spending on non-work-related activities and help you focus on the most important tasks. This time audit will also show you how much time you typically spend on various tasks. You can then use this information during your time management planning.
2. Create a daily schedule
Creating a daily schedule where you allocate time to various tasks is crucial to managing your time effectively. Ideally, you should always do this the day before so that you know the most pressing tasks you need to complete at the start of the following work day.
When creating this schedule, do give yourself allocated break times and also time buffers between tasks. Between breaks, be sure to shut down any distractions. Close any non-work tabs on your computer and turn your phone off or put it away until your next break. This will help you to remain focused on the task at hand.
Having time buffers between tasks is another essential element of a good schedule. This is because most people overestimate the amount of work they can get done in the allocated time. So if you find that you need to spend a little more time on one task, the buffers you created will ensure that your daily schedule doesn’t get affected so badly.
3. Assign reasonable time limits to your tasks
When you create your schedule, it’s important to allocate certain tie limits to your activities. One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. This tool gives you 25-minute chunks to complete a task, followed by a short 5-minute break. This helps you knuckle down and focus for short periods while also giving you a short enough break that helps keep your mind mentally fresh. Alternatively, you can set time blocks for certain activities. Once that time is up, move on to the next item.
4. Prioritise important activities and tasks
To-do lists are a great tool for keeping track of all the things you need to get done. However, it’s very easy for these lists to become long and overwhelming. This is why it’s important to prioritise the tasks on your to-do list.
Urgent activities and tasks that are crucial to achieving your goals should be tackled first. A handy tool you can use to prioritise your various tasks is the Eisenhower Matrix. This matrix will help you break your to-dos into four categories.
- Do immediately: These will be your most important tasks that usually have a deadline attached to them. Or these may be the tasks that you’ve kept avoiding.
- Schedule for later: All your important tasks that aren’t time-sensitive can be put in this category.
- Delegate: These are the tasks that you can allocate to other colleagues.
- Delete: If you have tasks that aren’t important and won’t help you achieve your goal, then add them to this section of the matrix.
Once you’ve allocated your tasks into each of the matrix’s four categories, you’ll find that your work is far more manageable. As you begin working on these tasks, always try to work on the most difficult things first, as the subsequent tasks will seem much easier to do.
5. Avoid multi-tasking
This can be one of the hardest time management techniques to put into practice, and we get why – things happen and distractions they, well, distract us. Multi-tasking has been shown to decrease employees’ efficiency and productivity levels.
So, when it comes to completing a task, only focus on that one thing. Another time management tip that’s related to this is batching similar tasks together, such as responding to emails and calling clients. Doing this will save you mental energy and prevent you from getting distracted.
6. Learn to say no
Yes, we know it’s hard, but saying no to certain things would likely help you manage your time much more efficiently. You need to know where to focus your time and energy – taking on too many tasks can leave you feeling stressed and result in you putting out sub-par work.
Recognise your strengths, focus on doing the work that you’re strongest at and then delegate other work to colleagues and team members.
7. Get organised
Knowing what’s where and what’s happening when plays a huge role in managing one’s time. Luckily, there are some easy ways to keep an organised work life. Maintaining a clean, tidy work desk does wonder for stress levels and anxiety. If you aren’t yet using a calendar, get started because this is one of the easiest ways to keep track of what you have going on.