When you’re working, there is no more precious commodity than time. And, it seems like you simply never have enough for all the tasks you need to finish in your day.
While some employees seem to be the masters of their schedule, most of us struggle with prioritizing and completing our ever-growing list of to-dos.
Take control of the chaos with these nine time management tips to boost your productivity.
Beginning your workday with no plan in mind of what needs to take priority can lead to a chaotic day. Instead, take care of your most urgent project first so you don’t spend the majority of your time and attention jumping from task to task. Then, you’ll be able to make more progress and complete several projects end of the day.
How you plan your day will depend on your personality and preferences. One option is to end your day by clearing and organizing your desk. This task will allow you to gather your thoughts and create a plan of action for your next day. If you’re more of a morning person, get to the office a few minutes early and create a priority list for your day. What is most urgent and important on your list that you need to address first? Creating a plan can help you stay organized and productive throughout the day, and give your full attention to your most pressing tasks.
Learning time management tips won’t improve your productivity if you aren’t able to track and set aside time for each task. Whether it’s a software program, a mobile app, or a feature on your email, utilizing a time management tool can help you divide and conquer your day.
As you determine which tasks are your priority, try to set aside a few hours to dedicate to each project. This will give you the time you need to focus on that single task and complete all the necessary steps. Updating your time management tool with the amount of time it actually took for you to complete a task (compared to your estimated time) will also let you better distribute your time in the future.
A major part of creating a priority list involves setting time limits for how long you can work on each task. When you start using your time management tool, your timing may not be 100% accurate, and that’s okay. Your goal should be to keep yourself within a set amount of time to stay focused, without getting distracted by one task and neglecting the others.
Give yourself one to two hours for each task, and adjust the time as you need going forward. It’s not the end of the world if you go a little over or under your set time every once in a while, since this is mostly a guideline. Be sure to plan breaks in between each task, too. This will keep you from overwhelming yourself with too many tasks in one day.
As useful and indispensable as our smartphones have become, they’re also an endless pit of distraction. Start tracking how many times throughout the day you go from being productive at work checking social media or playing a game on your phone.
Our phones aren’t the only distractions that can easily arise throughout the day, either. In fact, 80% of workers say chatty coworkers distract them more than anything else. How many times has a coworker interrupted you when you were focused and making strides on a project? Even a quick question can easily lead to a distracting conversation. Try dedicating a portion of your day to a time of no distractions. That means no meetings or phone calls, silencing your phone, and focusing only on a handful of tasks.
When working on a project, it’s easy to obsess over the small details and continue to work on it far longer than you need to. The tiny perfectionist in each of us drives us toward an idealistic standard that our schedules don’t always allow us to follow.
It’s important that you do your work well and to the best of your ability; however, it won’t always be perfect. That’s okay! You need to let go of each project eventually and move onto the next, so do your best with the time you can commit to it.
The worst thing you can do for your productivity is to overwhelm yourself by thinking of all the tasks you still have on your to-do list. Overanalyzing and stressing yourself out about future projects is only going to make it more difficult for you to finish any additional work.
The solution to this: Take a breath, focus on one task at a time, and set all your attention on completing it. Once you’ve completed that task, then you can worry about what comes next.
No matter how large or small your company is, there’s no need for you to take on every task yourself. Delegating tasks to others will give you more time to focus your attention and expertise on the tasks you’ve prioritized. Your team is working toward the same goals you are, so you can rely on them to work on the project just as hard as you would.
Learning how to delegate (and let go of) tasks is one of the most difficult lessons every business owner, manager, and employee has to learn. The “when,” “who,” and “what” to delegate can easily stop many managers from delegating tasks, because it’s seen as “simpler” to keep the task than to train someone else. Successful delegation allows you to focus your attention on your priorities for the day and trust that your employees will do the same.
Many people don’t know this, but you can decline a project, meeting, or any other task if you have more pressing items on your schedule. While saying “no” can leave a bad taste in your mouth, it’s often necessary to allow yourself to attend to what is most important and urgent at that time—and politely say “no” to what’s not.
Walking away from a project or task that isn’t productive is okay, too. If it’s not going as planned and all your efforts to redirect it in a more positive direction have failed, learn from the mistakes and move on.
Let’s be honest; nothing wastes more time than searching for an item and not being able to find it. According to one study, the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items. That is a lot of time you could save with a little organization.
Items at home and on your desk should have a “home.” Pens, papers, laptops, books, and anything else that can cause clutter should have a place to go that’s out of the way and orderly. Keeping your space clean and organized will not only help you avoid wasting time searching for missing objects, but it will also make you more relaxed.
Time management is a skill that takes practice and can be a little bit of a learning curve to master. Finding enough time in your schedule to complete all your tasks can be difficult, but you now have assistance a few time management tips along the way. Take your time and spend it wisely.
Paradigm Health & Wellness is located in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. We offer a unique and strategic approach to employees’ mental health, physical wellness, and more. Learn more about our services and contact us today! Like us on Facebook, and follow us on LinkedIn!