Time management strategies allow you to handle work you have to do within the time you have.
Whether you work as a project manager, you are an entrepreneur or the CEO of a big company, you have a different number of tasks to work on each iteration. You need to plan, manage and track your team’s work, too.
You want to accomplish meetings, estimations and planning, communication with clients and your team, reporting to the management during your 9-5 work day, but it seems like something impossible?
With bad planning and time management, it could be hard to fit everything within tight deadlines. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of the top time management strategies, to help you better plan your work and ultimately have the time for everything that needs your attention.
What is time management?
Generally speaking, time management is how we use the time in our possession to reach our objectives or finish the tasks we have to do efficiently.
Here’s a concise explanation of time management:
“Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.”
In other words, this is how you help yourself, your team members, colleagues or employees manage their workload.
1. Plan Your Work in Advance
Planning ahead (even the day before) will help you boost your productivity. One study by Pedro Serrador found that knowing exactly what you want to achieve within a specific timeline already positions you for success. Serrador established that there is a significant correlation between proper planning and the success of any project. He found out that project and cost efficiency are key determinants of project success. This means that proper planning improves the odds of project success as well as its cost-efficiency. Planning your everyday tasks may be as easy as developing a to-do list comprising urgent, effort-intensive, and highly important tasks.
2. Prioritize Your Work
Sometimes your to-do list may seem unachievable. The best way to make it more manageable is to split it into smaller chunks. Prioritizing your work will help you organize your task based on their urgency, importance, and effort required to complete them. Separate important tasks from urgent ones using a productivity tool. Eisenhower Matrix is an example of a reliable productivity tool you can use to organize your tasks.
It orders them into four groups.
- Important and urgent: Tasks you should complete first
- Important but not urgent: These are task you can plan to perform later
- Not important but urgent: Consider delegating these tasks
- Not important & not urgent: Do these tasks later.
3. Use a Reliable Time Management Software
Track every minute you spend at work with time management software. For starters, the software sets time estimates, and then tracks and keeps a record of the amount of time you spend on every task. If you’re handling a project, for instance, you can project the time needed to complete each task and set it on the software to track and use your time efficiently.
Pro tip: If your work is focused around your computer and you’re doing everything by the book in terms of time management, but your slowed-down computer is filled with viruses that are eating up so much of your time, then consider cleaning it up.
4. Eliminate Distractions
You need to get rid of distractions to accomplish more tasks on your to-do list and improve your productivity. Distractions you need to eliminate may originate from calls, emails, coworkers, social media, or small talk. It may be tempting to log into your social media every once in a while, check your inbox every few minutes, or engage your colleagues in small talk. But like it or not, it hurts your productivity.
Here are some bonus tips to minimize distractions:
- Set a dedicated time for checking your inbox so you don’t miss a crucial email.
- Restrict casual conversations with colleagues to coffee and lunch break.
- Put your phone on silent mode and keep it out of sight so you don’t keep on checking it every once in a while.
5. Don’t Multitask
Although some people praise multitasking, hosts of studies have found it to be ineffective and inefficient.
One study revealed that only 2 percent of people can handle too many tasks at once effectively.
For the rest (98%), multitasking is a waste of time and a productivity killer.
Rather than dividing your focus into multiple things, it’s wise to concentrate exclusively on a single thing and excel at it.
6. Delegate and/or Outsource Tasks
Taking on too many tasks than you can complete often leads to stress and burnout. Delegating tasks to other team members based on their skills and capabilities is actually an effective way to get more work done. It also frees up time for you and makes your team members feel like a crucial part of the company.
Outsourcing repetitive and complex tasks to outsourcing partners is another effective way to save both time and money. If you’re entering a new foreign market, for instance, outsourcing your human resource and payroll functions to the best PEO services can help set your business up for success in that specific market within a short duration.
7. Wake up Early – Prolong Your Day
Most successful people tend to wake early as it offers them adequate time to sit, think, and come up with a program for the day. When you start your day early, you’ll be more relaxed, creative, and able to think critically. As time goes on, your energy levels begin to wane, which hurts your motivation, attention, and overall productivity. So the best time to get more done is during the morning hours when your head is clear.
8. Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is arguably the biggest productivity killer. It can lead to wasting valuable time and energy. It can negatively affect both your professional and personal life. Overcoming procrastination is a challenging endeavor for many. Most people tend to procrastinate when they feel bored or tired. A great way to stay on track throughout the day is by engaging in smaller, fun activities in between more difficult tasks.
Manage Your Time Better and Boost Your Productivity
Let’s summarize these great time management strategies so that you can remember them:
- Plan Your Work in Advance
- Prioritize Your Work
- Use a Reliable Time Management Software
- Eliminate Distractions
- Don’t Multitask
- Delegate and/or Outsource Tasks
- Wake up Early – Prolong Your Day
- Overcome Procrastination
Another way to improve productivity is through better goal management. Implementing the smart time management strategies above coupled with better goal management will enable you to plan your day effectively and get more done. And within a few days, you’ll feel like you have a lot of time on your hands, tasks will be easier to accomplish, work-related stress will drop substantially, and your productivity will increase significantly.
After just a few days you will notice that:
- Your productivity improved
- It’s easier for you to do tasks you’ve been assigned with
- It feels like you have suddenly more time
- The work-related stress has dropped significantly
And as these strategies may work for you, you can also try to incorporate them to the entire team you run, and increase their productivity.
You now have the power and strategies to improve your time management.
The strategies mentioned above will get you and your team there but they won’t work if you don’t take action.
Take the initiative to change your habits and steer your company through improving productivity and time management one step at a time.
There’s no better time to start than today.
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