How often do you find yourself checking the time and thinking “How come it’s so late and I haven’t even done a half of what I’ve planned for today”? Well, you’re not the only one out there, I’m afraid. Effective time management is one of the biggest challenges at work. At the same time, it’s a crucial skill, which will help you stay productive and get the most out of your day. Good time management will also spare lots of frustrations and stressful situations, letting you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Successful projects require efficient time management, so if you want to deliver projects on schedule, you need to bear in mind a few basic rules and try to put them into practice.
Although it might seem obvious that you need to plan your work, it’s very often the case that planning is considered a waste of time. It has probably happened to you that you wanted to make a plan of things to do and then, overwhelmed by your workload, simply skipped the planning stage and got straight to work.
It’s very important not to ignore the helpfulness of a good plan. Find the best way for yourself – you might want to plan weekly or prepare daily to-do lists at the end or at the beginning of your workday. Whatever works for you. It helps arrange your tasks and make sure you don’t forget about anything in the hustle of everyday duties. If you devote a few minutes a day to preparing a to-do list, you will save a lot of time during the day – a glance at the list will be enough to find the next thing you have to do. You can use a task management tool, such as HeySpace to make the process easier.
Planning is also a very useful way of defining your priorities. While preparing a plan, you can already think what needs your urgent attention and what can wait until the end of the day or week. Confront the list with your weekly or monthly goals and decide what you should focus on first.
If you have the impression that time is slipping through your fingers and you don’t manage to do what you should do, start using a time-tracking tool. It will help you put your working habits into perspective and see what takes up the most of your time at work. You might not even realize that you devote a lot of time to something that shouldn’t be your priority. Find a good time-tracking tool and analyse the reports. Thanks to that you will see exactly how much time you devote to each of your tasks and find areas to improve.
If you find out something takes too much of your time, start setting time limits to tasks that are not your priorities or that shouldn’t take so long. It will help you focus and be more productive.
Preparing your workspace can save a lot of your time. First of all, eliminate all distractions and unnecessary things from your desk. Put your phone away, so that you don’t get interrupted by the messages of phone calls you get all the time. You won’t be tempted to check social media and it will be much easier to focus. If you do something really important, turn off notifications in your task management tool and check them only once you finish.
Secondly, prepare everything you might need to complete your task so that you don’t have to make breaks to find some important document or check a report. The fewer times you get interrupted, the more productive your work will be. And don’t forget to make yourself a coffee and take a glass of water. Thanks to that, you won’t need to stop your task and get distracted before you complete it.
Although multitasking is a very useful skill, it doesn’t necessarily increase productivity in all cases. Once you get to a task, try to really focus and not get interrupted by other small things you want to do at the same time. Don’t start anything else until you complete what you’ve been doing. You will be able to tick it off your to-do list, which is motivating and satisfying and you will certainly get more done.
Also, remember that you don’t always have to do what someone asks you to do straight away. If someone needs your help, tell them when you will be available and, if it’s not urgent, offer your help once you finish what you’ve started.
Good time management can significantly improve your productivity and, apart from the basic things you should keep in mind, it’s also very important to find the right productivity technique for yourself. You can manage your time in many different ways. Some will say that pomodoro technique works for them, while others will prefer a time blocking app, and so on. Once you find the technique that is suitable for the type of work you do as well as your style of work, stick to it and you will certainly see the results very quickly.