Time management is something we all learn to do at some point during our careers – it’s also a skill that we can never stop developing. 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, it’s happening later in our careers when we have more responsibilities (and therefore distractions). Either way, we always need to look at how well we’re managing our time. The better you can manage this, the more productive you become – making you a better employee. Here are a few pointers on ways you can make the best of your time at work.
Once you know the end goal of what you want to do, you can start to ensure that what you’re working on contributes directly to that goal. It’ll mean that you know the task you’re undertaking is actually worth the time you’re spending on it. 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? Is it actually a task that’s pretty pointless in attaining the end result?
Procrastination is one of the worst culprits in impeding your work schedule and productivity goals. We’re all prone to it but some of us know how to handle it better than others. Just because you’re a known procrastinator doesn’t mean that you’re a bad employee! The key to beating procrastination is to understand why you’re doing it. Is it because you’re genuinely bored with your job? Are you afraid of failing? Do you see the task ahead as a bit daunting? Try making a to-do list, so what look like big tasks can be managed in smaller sizeable chunks of work. What’s going to happen if you don’t do the task? Maybe you need to give yourself a little recap of the significance of the task at hand and what were to happen if you didn’t complete it. Once you’ve given yourself this little reminder, you might find that the task is done a lot quicker than anticipated!
Sometimes, the ‘just do it’ approach is the easiest. Rather than deliberately distracting yourself, you could spend that time completing the task that you didn’t want to do. We can’t avoid doing boring jobs at our workplace – it’s a common fact that there are always aspects to our jobs that we dislike. Just simply getting the unwanted task out of the way as quickly as possible is the best way to beat procrastination. Imagine you’re taking off a plaster really quickly. Get it over and done with and you won’t be distracting yourself from doing it!
Plan like crazy
The ‘management’ part of time management comes under our ability to plan well. 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.
Don’t forget your personal priorities
Amongst managing the temptation to procrastinate, unexpected interruptions and tasks taking longer than they should, you need to be able to make some time for yourself. 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 having a session of online shopping to get away from things work related, it’ll really help your time management skills and make your day feel like less hard work. Once you’ve become a pro at managing your time, you can spend an increasing period doing what you care about. If you’re struggling to manage your work-life balance, read my article here for some great tips.
Other little things you can do
If you get distracted easily at your work space, then put away your phone (or have it out of sight or turn it on silent) and tidy up your work space. If you have a cluttered desk, it can be nearly impossible to get the important things done. If you don’t have anything to distract you – then the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is very fitting!
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 work flow. You can find playlists for music meant to help you focus and concentrate on most popular music sites such as Spotify or YouTube.
It sounds clichéd, but make sure you drink plenty of water. 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.
Review your meetings. The worst thing at work is wasting time in meetings that you don’t need to be in. If you can instead get the important key points from someone else or sit in for the first half of the meeting, you’ll be freeing up some time so you can get to work on the more important tasks.
We’re all guilty of not manging 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.