Time management is a skill that may or may not come naturally to you. Sometimes we have to learn from our experiences and find what works for us and others just have the natural talent of managing their time well. Whichever situation you currently find yourself in, time management, if not already, will become a vital skill you need to use daily. Sometimes it’s during our studies we learn to prioritise, for some of us it’s throughout our first job when we learn to look at how long things should take to complete. Or you could notice that later on in your career, you need to brush up on this skill. We constantly need to look at how we manage time, and it can feel a little overwhelming at times. The better you manage your time, the more control you have over your work and productivity. We can all spend a bit more time planning and thinking about the future, so why not start now?
Let’s start with what time management means…
Good time management doesn’t focus on how busy you are, but how effectively you are using your time. It’s about learning to prioritise and focus on the things that most need your attention. It can be easy to feel stressed if there is loads going on but focusing on how to do it and not what needs to be done can help you feel more at ease and in control. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.
Time management is all about the way you organise your tasks and how much time you spend on them. Giving yourself some kind of structure can help you get everything you need done and save you some stress. The benefits of taking some time to learn about how to manage your time better can be staggering and might be just what you need to help at work and in your personal life, especially if you’re starting to feel the effects of burn-out and/or work-related stress.
You may see:
- Greater productivity and efficiency
- A sense of freedom at the end of the workday
- It can help you gain a better professional reputation – people see the way you work and the positive outcomes
- Greater opportunities to achieve important life and career goals – if you give yourself the time to succeed, you can do anything!
How can you start?
Set your goals – What do you want to achieve from this day and what is your highest priority? Setting daily or weekly goals can help you figure out where you need to start. Starting can sometimes be the hardest part, but with a plan, you can start to get organised. Before undergoing a task, take a few minutes to evaluate how well the task in question contributes to your overall goal. Is it essential to getting the goal achieved? How long will it take and how will it fit in with the rest of your day.
Start your schedule - The ‘management’ part of time management comes under our ability to plan well. Some people may prefer to just take the day as it goes, but when trying to work on time management, a list might be a better option. It will help you keep track of what you have done so far and where to go next. Such a simple step but can really help. The first stage of planning is prioritising. Plan which tasks need doing the most against tasks which will take a long time. Always undertake the most critical errands first. That way, you can easily take as much time as you need for less important, longer jobs.
Have something to look forward to - Good time management isn’t just about making sure you get all your work done as quickly as possible. You need to make time to relax and do something you enjoy. Whether it’s a walk at lunchtime or taking some time out to read a chapter of a book to get away from work related things for a brief moment, it can really help your time management skills and make your day feel like less hard work. If you’re struggling to manage your work-life balance, click here to read more about how you can find the right balance!
Other things you can do to help time management
If you get distracted easily at your workspace, then put away your phone/tablet or any other personal device you may have near you. You don’t have to ignore it all day, but maybe keep it on silent when you are trying to focus.
Make sure you keep things tidy; I know that when my workspace is cluttered, I struggle to focus. Things can get in the way and it can feel impossible to get everything done. Cluttered space, cluttered mind, so try to make an effort to keep your space clear.
If you tend to lose focus easily when you’re working, try listening to some music to concentrate. It’s easy to get down working and then hearing noises around you that you can’t control can prevent a good workflow. You can find playlists for music meant to help you focus and concentrate. This one isn’t for everyone; silence is better for some and music for others. Do whatever you feel is best for you.
It sounds clichéd, but make sure you drink plenty of water and eat properly throughout the day. Water as you know helps us concentrate – and getting up every now and then to get some water gives us a good break from computer screens and other work environments too. Also take the time you have earnt to have a proper lunch break. If you don’t have to, don’t eat at your desk. Get away from it all and sit somewhere different or go outside. It can make a world of difference.
We’re all a little guilty of not managing our time very effectively every now and then. It doesn’t mean we’re bad employees who don’t know how to do our jobs, but it does mean that the skill of time management needs polishing up. It’s something we all have to build upon as distractions from elsewhere become louder and more frequent.