Time is one of the most precious commodities we have. No matter where you live, what language you speak, or how much money you have, we all have 24 hours to work with. When you subtract time for sleep, time for exercise, time to eat, and time to work, that doesn’t leave you much to work with. Since you can’t get more time, you have to successfully manage it.
What is Time Management?
The process of allocating your time successfully throughout the day is what time management is all about. Identifying what has to get done and when you will get it done is important. Don’t let the day just pass you by, you have to make it work for you and you have to be in control of it. Effective planning means that you will feel good about what you accomplish and you will have your goals met.
How to Improve Time Management
Do you feel like the day just slips through you fingers? Do you feel like there is always more to get done than you actually did? Spend a week keeping track of how you spend your time. Document every bit of it so that you can see where you are losing time. This is a great way for you to improve your time management skills.
Get a calendar to put important events on. This will ensure you don’t over book your time and that you don’t miss events. Get a day planner that has hourly blocks so you can identify how you will spend your time. Don’t plan your day down to the minute though, leave some openings for the unexpected so that you aren’t in a time crunch.
Many people put off what they should get done. They get distracted by phone calls, social media, or they simply drag their feet. Change your mindset and get things done. If you know that you procrastinate about certain things, get them done first. You will feel great knowing that you have it done. Make it a habit to reward yourself when you stay on target and meet your deadlines.
You may find that it is easy to self improve with time management by using some resources and tools. There are plenty of software programs that can help you both at home and at work. You will be able to complete more work in less time. Look for ways that you can be more efficient and spend less time getting particular tasks completed.
The investment in such resources and tools will more than pay for themselves over time. Focus on those that allow you to get results and also save you time without your overall work being compromised. Many of these resources don’t take long to learn how to use either.
The Perfect Work Environment
You will find that a job you are passionate about is one that allows you to get more done. You will dive right in and work hard to be as efficient as you can. Find the perfect type of job for your skills and your desires. No one wants to go to work every day and hate what they do.
Set up your work environment in a manner that works well for you personally. This includes the way your desk is organized and how you reach to get certain items you use throughout the day. Have a filing system in place that allows you to quickly locate anything you need.
A comfortable chair, good computer, and even the right lighting can help you to feel great in your work environment. You need to minimize distractions too so that you can get the work done. If you work from home, set specific hours in your office when you aren’t going to be disturbed.
What Time are you the Most Productive?
Everyone has a timeframe when they are the most productive as well as the most creative. For some, it is first thing in the morning. For others, it is in the afternoon or even late at night. Identify when you are the most productive and use that to your advantage. If you aren’t a morning person, consider a job where you work at night.
Once you have identified when you are the most productive, use that to your advantage. Use that period of time to tackle harder tasks and get them completed. Doing them when you are the most energized and the most alert will speed up productivity and reduce the risk of errors.
Using a Timer to Stay Focused
Set a timer and then get to work on what you have in front of you. Don’t look at the clock or do anything else until you hear that timer go off. Completely engross yourself in that project and let the time take care of itself. This is the ideal way to make sure you aren’t distracted by the time and that you don’t spend too much time on any given project.
It can become a challenge for you too that you take on with certain projects. For example, you may feel that the job is going to take 45 minutes to tackle. Set the timer for that amount of time and see if you can complete it before the timer goes off. It will offer you a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction if you do. That timer can be the motivation you need to keep your mind from wondering when you are working on that particular task.
These focused chunks of time can help you to improve your time management skills. It can help you to calm down and to stay focused on your task at hand rather than feeling like you have so much else to get to as well. Your confidence will increase as you see the tasks being completed.
Phone Calls and Emails
Allocate certain times of the day when you will go through your phone messages and your emails. You can’t constantly answer the phone or check your email because it will distract you from what you have going on. Twice a day, check your emails and return those that are a priority. The same with your voicemails. Try to get back to people within 24 hours.
One Touch System
Any paperwork that comes into your office, have a one touch system for it. Organize piles of work to do based on priority. Items that just need to be filed, do it as soon as you touch the papers. That way they don’t stack up and you don’t feel overwhelmed with what is on your desk.
Is there work you can pass along to someone else to help you with time management? Think about what can be done at home by your children instead of you doing everything. Even young children can take care of some simple chores. When the entire family pitches in, there is more free time for everyone to enjoy. Chores give children a sense of responsibility and you can reward them with a weekly allowance.
If you feel that you don’t have time for housework regularly, consider paying someone to come in and clean twice a week for you. The same is true for your yard work. There are plenty of individuals willing to do such work and they aren’t very expensive. If you can afford to pay for such work to be done, it can be worth it to regain the time you would spend on the work yourself.
At work, can you delegate certain tasks to other people? There may be interns or other staff that can help with returning phone calls, scheduling appointments, etc. If you are completely overwhelmed, ask if it is possible for a part time assistant to be hired to help you. If the budget allows it, your boss may approve it so you have more time to work on more pressing business.
Break Down Large Tasks
Large tasks can seem overwhelming and even intimidating when you approach them. Break them down into smaller tasks and assign deadlines for completing those sections. By doing so, you will be able to see the progress as it moves along. This will also prevent you from ending up in a time crunch where it is virtually impossible for you to get the entire project done in the time that remains.
You never know when emergencies or unexpected projects will drop in your lap. This is why you have to be ready for them and you can’t leave projects to the last minute. By breaking them down, you will always be able to complete them and that makes you reliable in the eyes of others.
Keep Group Work on Target
Group work can be very useful, but only if you are able to keep it on target. Time can be wasted in group efforts due to complaints, visiting that isn’t related to the topic, and more. Have an agenda of what will be covered in the group meeting, it should be clear who is responsible for completing various tasks on the project, and the next meeting should be set up.
It is important to stay on track with group work so that everyone benefits. If you feel that groups aren’t working well in your work environment or in other groups you are a part of, don’t be hesitant to speak up. Talk about delegation and why it is important. They will appreciate your leadership as it will help everyone in the group with time management.
If you micro-manage every detail at work and at home, you will be exhausted. There isn’t enough time in the day for that! It will also cause friction in your personal relationships. Let go of the little things and focus on the big picture. Show appreciation for the effort that people put forth, and don’t criticize if the outcome isn’t the way you would have done it.
Keep in mind that not everyone things the same way or processes information the same way. This is why you delegate the things that aren’t as critical so you can spend your time on those things that are critical. If you are over the top with control, it can be tough to break such habits. Work on this as a self improvement effort through and you will find you feel more relaxed. You will also find it frees up plenty of time for you.
Since you only have a allotted amount of time each day, you have to prioritize. What do you absolutely have to accomplish and what doesn’t have to get done? Have a list in place with your top priorities on it. If you find you complete tasks in less time, pick up something additional from your list of things that needs done but not immediately.
When you prioritize, you will find you are less stressed and less rushed. You will enjoy feelings of significant accomplishment throughout the day too. Knowing that you are on top of what you need to get done and that you have done an excellent job is something to smile about. It also provides you with confidence as you move through one task to the next.
Don’t be Afraid to Say No
Many of us are overextended with time because we don’t like to say no. It is okay to say no that you can’t take on something new. It doesn’t matter if this is in your personal or professional life. If you already have enough commitments, don’t let someone push you into something else. Thank them for asking you to be part of it, but let them know you simply don’t have the time right now.
Be firm when you say no so that they get the message. If you can help in others ways though, consider giving them a counter offer. For example, if you are asked to help with organizing a fundraiser for a charity, you may not have the time to commit to it. However, you can offer a donation that helps to get the movement off in the right direction.
Re-Arrange your Schedule
It may be time to make some changes to your schedule. Do you spend hours each day commuting to work? Is it possible you can change to a job closer or you can move closer to your job? Is there a possibility of working from home a few days a week so that you can save time?
If you do have to commute, try to car pool or use public transportation. You can use that commute time to get some work done too and that will help you to efficiently maximize the use of your time.
Talk to your Boss
It can be hard to go to your boss and tell them that you have too much on your plate. Economically, times are hard and businesses are cutting back on employees. That doesn’t mean there is less work though, so it gets piled up. Tell your boss how you feel about the workload and see if they can assist you with working it out.
They may be able to get some part time help on board in order to make it easier for you and other employees to manage. If you are struggling with certain tasks, maybe they can be delegated to someone else within the business that does better with that particular task. It doesn’t hurt for the employer to take inventory of their strengths and weaknesses among employees. Then work can be allocated based on what each employee has to offer.
Time for You
Schedule time for you! Write it in your day planner and take advantage of it. Use that time to do something you enjoy. It could be going for a walk, reading a book, or even painting. Your day shouldn’t be all about work and taking care of responsibilities. It is important to be able to enjoy some down time that you spend as you see fit.
Never feel guilty for taking time for you. Many people do but they don’t realize they are shortchanging themselves. Being a priority with your time means that you value who you are. It gives you time to relax, to think, and to recharge both physically and mentally. Then you will be better prepared to tackle your obligations.
Put limits on the work you take home so that you aren’t putting more hours there after being at the office all day. Your productivity is going to wane over the long hours and you won’t get much done anyway. Your social well being, family time, and personal time allows you to refresh your batteries for the following work day.
On paper, you may be committing too much to get done every single day. Be realistic about what you can get done. Identify how long it should take you to get certain tasks done. By doing so, you aren’t going to be setting yourself up for failure.
As you move forward with your self improvement efforts relating to time management, have some rewards in place. When you accomplish goals and stay on track with what you need to complete, you deserve to enjoy a dinner out, a new outfit, or something else that you will really look forward to. Such rewards can really motivate you to do the best with your time.