How to Adopt Efficient Time Management Skills
One of the most important elements of day-to-day life is also the thing most people wish they had more of: time. It controls what we do every day, how we do it, when we do it and for how long. We build our schedules around the clock and attempt to maximize every minute available to us.
Time is especially important in the workplace, and it affects the amount of productivity and progress that can be made in a typical eight-hour shift. Unfortunately, a lack of time can lead to stressful and unhealthy work environments. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 26% of workers reported they are often or very often burned out or stressed by their work. And one of the leading causes of workplace stress is an inefficient use of time or feelings that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what needs to be done.
Although you can’t add more time into the day, you can better manage the hours you do have and make the most of them. Let’s take a closer look at what time management is, why it’s important and how you can become more productive during your day using time management tips.
What is Time Management?
Time management is the process of planning and controlling how much time to spend on specific activities. It can help you prioritize work and put energy toward the right things. For this article, we’re focusing on workplace project management, but time management is an important practice for any aspect of life.
When done correctly, effective time management can lead to successful days and a stress-free work-life balance. But, when not taken seriously or done incorrectly, your ability to manage your tasks may become difficult.
Good time management looks like giving the correct amount of time and thought to specific efforts while designating less time toward less important or easier jobs. You may feel like this method of getting things done is lazy, but ranking the needs of your work is the best way to keep you from getting burned out or overwhelmed. Poor time management generally leaves people with an inability to rank duties, more likely to procrastinate and take work home or work off hours to get things done.
Basically, the ability to manage your time is essential to a happy and healthy office life. But there are even more benefits.
The Importance of Efficient Time Management
Time management is all about strategy. How can you arrange your schedule to get the best work done in a sustainable amount of time? Once you master the art of work goals and self-discipline, you’ll reap these benefits:
With effective time management skills under your belt, you should be able to understand how much time should be allocated to which tasks and spend less time thinking about what to work on next or procrastinating. You’ll be better able to move from one task to another more smoothly. The allocation of specific increments of time should leave you with the ability to focus more on just the essentials and give you a chance to produce the best results.
More Timely Work
By properly managing your time, you should keep track of project deadlines and important task milestones more easily. If you play your cards correctly, you can allow yourself extra time to complete checklist items, or finish ahead of time to provide a buffer for any unexpected challenges. Never cut jobs too close to when they’re due by planning and caring for your schedule.
Become More Reliable
You can become a better employee and coworker by employing efficient time management practices. By creating a good reputation for you and your work, you gain more career opportunities and ensure your current leaders trust you with bigger and better projects. It may also help you move up internally in your company or put you in a better position in the long run.
There’s nothing better than holding your head high with the knowledge that you accomplished a project well. Have more confidence-boosting moments by giving yourself the tools for success and by setting yourself up for better delivery and performance.
Ultimately, good time management skills can make you the most efficient version of yourself. When you understand how to control your schedule and manipulate tasks, you’ll become more focused at work, which could allow you to accomplish more with less time available.
Taking control of your time can reduce your stress levels and increase your well-being. By not having to worry about missing deadlines or staying up too late to finish projects, you can create a healthy work-life balance and reduce work-specific anxieties. With lowered stress levels, you can enjoy your job more and feel more accomplished with your daily tasks.
While these are all wonderful examples of why you should better manage your time and learn to maximize your schedule, it doesn’t mean this is easy to do. Sadly, there are many challenges people must battle to incorporate a healthy time management strategy into their workday.
Common Time Management Issues
As frustrating as poor time management is, take heart that you’re not the only one struggling with this skill. There are many bad habits and scheduling struggles employees have a hard time avoiding every single day.
Better understand what common time-sucking traps people fall into to evaluate if they’re also issues you find yourself dealing with. As the popular phrase says: “the first step is to admit that you have a problem.” Take a look at some of those common time management challenges:
The main factor that may be keeping you from incorporating good time management in the workplace may be a lack of motivation to complete important tasks. If you have no desire to start big projects that may take you more time than other smaller, easier jobs, then you may find yourself leaving less time to do the more time-consuming assignments.
Procrastination is similar to low motivation but it has more to do with our emotional well-being. According to The Washington Post, people don’t procrastinate because they’re waiting on someone’s help or need more information — it has to do with emotional self-regulation. You may find yourself procrastinating on jobs that seem unappealing or overwhelming because it appears easier to avoid them than to start them. The unfortunate part of this common issue is it always leads to stressful circumstances, less time and fewer successful results.
Not Enough Time
Some people in certain jobs may find themselves often overbooked and asked to do many important tasks at once. Not being able to rank or prioritize jobs may cause you to be in a constant time crunch with zero ability to set less timely projects or smaller projects to the side.
Doing too many things at once can come from the above problem of not having enough time, or it can occur when an employee tries to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time in an attempt to maximize the day. The issue is, constantly switching between tasks without allowing yourself the ability to fall into a comfortable rhythm of productivity may actually be holding you back from finishing projects on time. It takes a little while for an employee to get into the correct headspace to produce good work. If you start a new project before you’ve given yourself a chance to get to that peak productive time, then you’re hurting yourself rather than helping.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is so vital for an effective day of work. The Sleep Foundation found a healthy adult below the age of 65 should have a goal to sleep seven to nine hours every night. If you’re not getting the correct amount of rest, then it can affect your ability to accomplish your job effectively and efficiently. Don’t allow your work to suffer just because you’re not taking care of yourself.
Overbooking Your Schedule
If you’re not a leader or higher up in a company, you may not be able to control your schedule as much as you’d like. But, it’s vital you don’t agree to too many things. Yes, meetings are an important part of gaining information and collaborating with others. But having more meetings than you have time for is not healthy or helpful for your ability to execute projects and maintain timelines. You only have so many hours during the day, so make sure you give yourself ample time to accomplish your jobs well.
Refusing to Delegate
You may pride yourself on your ability to get things done on your own, but it’s okay to get help if you need it. If you find yourself in a bind and unable to either move forward on a project or be asked to do too much, then it’s time to bring your challenge to your management team or ask your coworkers for help.
Too Many Distractions
Whether you work from home or go to an office, there are most likely things that distract you throughout the day. To avoid this, tailor your workspace to avoid getting sidetracked. That may mean closing your door, putting on headphones (or taking them off), finding a space in your home away from housework or working in a coworking space where you have people to hold you accountable. Whatever you need to do to decrease distraction and increase productivity and focus will result in proper time management skills.
Tips to Become More Efficient
Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of factors that could pull you away from efficient time management practices. There are many healthy practices to enhance your time management skills. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Take an Audit of How You Spend Your Time
Spend a small amount of time thinking through and logging how you devote your work hours. Now, time tracking is a normal practice. This can be a helpful way to see what tasks took you the most time and which ones were a bit quicker. You can then use this information to create your schedule for the next day.
Set Daily Priorities
To effectively manage your time, it can help to know what tasks are most important or might take the most amount of time to complete and do those projects first. Jobs that may require a shorter amount of time or are not due as soon may be put to the bottom of the list and accomplished after the more pressing assignments. By setting up your schedule this way, you can keep more important activities from becoming urgent.
Use a Planning Software
You don’t have to plan out every single second of your waking hours, but having some form of daily planner — either digital or physical — can keep you more organized and on top of different tasks. By having your to-do list out of your head and into another place, you can free up brain space to better focus on your specific tasks at hand. Find time management tools you like and use them consistently.
As previously mentioned, it can be difficult to get help from others. But, by finding sections of your job that may be handed off to people who are either less busy or more able to accomplish the job, you’ll free up time and energy for more important or more specific projects. It will also give you more time to address and focus on each task, making it easier to set goals and deliver top-quality work.
Keep Your Space Organized
It can be easy to let your desk become a mess or your desktop become cluttered with documents or files. Although it takes time to organize your space, taking the energy to clean up your workspace can help you better organize and manage your time down the road. If you’re constantly looking for specific papers or looking up project documents on your computer, you may be wasting a lot of time you could be spending on accomplishing different tasks. It could help you feel less stressed, as well.
Know When to Say No
To keep your task list from overwhelming you, understand what you’re truly capable of completing in a day and make sure you don’t agree to more than what you can handle. It may seem like you’re being helpful or a dedicated employee by saying yes to everything, but doing a poor job due to overbooking or feeling frantic and stressed will only give you a disagreeable reputation in your company. Be a dependable coworker by knowing what you can handle and being straightforward with management.
Business Leaders Should Properly Train Employees
The best way to make sure employees and business leaders are on the same page regarding efficient time management is through effective training. Introduce online, video-based training in ways to manage your time wisely and see a more healthy and stress-free workplace unfold before you. Whether your team is scattered across the globe or works together in an office. Virtual training makes sure that each person knows how to be self-sufficient and keep track of their time well.
Get connected to better training videos about time management strategies from MasteryTCN.