As a manager, you are responsible not only for your own time but for the time of those working in your team. Time is the single most important resource at your disposal. Everyone gets the same amount of it in a day, and everyone has the ability to choose the best ways to use it. Due to this, time management strategies can be useful tools.
However, this phrasing can be misleading. Time cannot be managed. It is constant. The only thing that can be managed is what you do with it. The most effective managers and workers plan out their time to maximize productivity.
It can be difficult, however, to do this when there is so much that needs doing in a day. From meetings to planning sessions to report writing, everything must fit into those 24 hours. This is where time management techniques are necessary.
Learn below more about this topic in this article created by our team at Trafft.
Time Management Strategies?
Working hard does not always equate to better productivity results. Sometimes, those that work the hardest are also the ones that waste the most amount of time. All the hard work in the world cannot make up for poor time management.
Time management simply means planning and focusing your efforts in a way that is conscious of both how much time is at your disposal, and how long a task will take to complete.
When you take these points into account and plan accordingly in a realistic way, then this will help optimize the hours in a working day to the greatest extent possible.
We have put together the 14 best tips to improve your time management and help maximize your productivity.
Besides our tips below, you can also check out some tips from Thomas Frank who created this interesting video:
14 Time Management Strategies
1. Track Time
Before adjusting your work patterns and taking action to improve time management, you must first take stock of your current situation.
Keeping a record or log of your daily work activities is a great way of doing this. This does not mean you have to keep detailed records of every minute of every day. Rather, start with 15-minute chunks of the day, and you will quickly start seeing patterns and habits that are wasting potentially useful time.
We’ve created an article with the best time tracking apps that you should check out.
Here’s a quick list of the ones that we included in that article:
You can check out the article to see detailed info about them.
2. Plan Your Day
Many people are put-off making daily plans as they feel that there is little point – unpredictability is a fact of life, so why bother planning?
While this is true to a certain extent, plans can help add structure to your workday. This structure can – and indeed should – be flexible. This means that you can make sure you assign time to get everything done that needs doing, while also allowing for any variables, such as surprise meetings or tasks that take longer than expected.
3. Make Use of Effective Scheduling
There are many ways you can manage the time in your day, from taking part in the Japanese technique of Kaizen, to simply keeping a planner or using a planning app to maintain a schedule.
Scheduling feeds into the previous idea of planning your day, but goes into more detail. While you may not want to schedule your entire day, scheduling individual tasks can make larger tasks easier to manage. Break these down into smaller, more manageable jobs and you will find these easier to accomplish.
It also gives you smaller goals to aim for, and at the same time allows you to feel that all-important sense of achievement more often, keeping you going and motivating you.
4. Do One Thing at a Time
Multitasking is often seen as something to aspire towards to maximize productivity. However, this is not always true. Multitasking when not prepared correctly can lead to increased stress and lower quality work.
Give yourself time to “warm-up” to a task. Break a task into smaller chunks and tackle each one at a time. It may feel less time-effective at first, but you may find yourself finishing more work at a higher quality in the long run.
5. Order Tasks from Most Important to Least
Once you have broken your jobs up into smaller tasks, order them from the most important to the least important.
If at all possible, make sure you do the most important one first. If that is not possible, then do the biggest first. This means you are tackling the biggest challenge first, while at your highest level of energy and awareness.
Finishing a major task first can leave you with a sense of accomplishment that will propel you through the rest of the smaller tasks. It will feel like an easy downhill ride for the rest of the job!
6. Emphasize the Most Important Activities
Again, this feeds into the previous point. When beginning a new project – and once you have split it up into manageable chunks – identify what will have the biggest positive impact on the overall project once completed. Then, focus on that one first. This will set you up for success from the very beginning, and create momentum.
To find out which is the most important task, ask yourself:
- What aspect of the project can’t we do without?
- What can I do immediately to get this done?
- What do most members of my team need from me now?
7. Know Which Times You Are at Your Most Productive
This may seem like an obvious point, but it is vital. You must figure out at what time of day you work best. Night? Early morning?
Once you’ve figured this out, you can schedule your day and plan your projects accordingly, so that you are tackling the most important work when you are at your sharpest.
8. Tailor Your Time
Time management involves many sweeping tasks, but it is important to tailor your time management so it is specific to you. Don’t just apply every tip and rule you find directly to your life and expect it to work.
Something you can try doing is splitting your time into sections. These sections can be different depending on your work and life, but separating your work like this can help make the time you spend on tasks more manageable.
9. Group Up Tasks
Once you have split you projects into tasks, try grouping them into batches of similar tasks. This is especially effective if you are working with a team of people.
This means you can separate your team into groups and hand off batches of similar tasks depending on the skills of each group of employees. This is the ultimate time effective delegation.
Another way of doing this is by splitting your time into groups. Allocate batches of days for certain tasks and stick to it. This encourages teams to focus on particular tasks.
10. Block Out Time and Build a Framework for Your Day
Set out specific times of the day for specific tasks. This will help you focus your efforts on similar tasks so your attention is not jumping around all over the place.
- Begin with the tasks with the highest priority.
- Then, plan out how you will begin the day, and “exit” work for the day. This sets an endpoint for the working day – vital if you are working remotely.
- Set blocks of time for “proactive tasks”.
- Set blocks of time for “reactive tasks”. This includes reacting to feedback or solving problems.
11. Maximize Full Attention
The nature of being so connected in the modern world is that procrastination is rampant. We are constantly being flooded with calls, emails, questions, and more work. Creating boundaries and focusing on specifics is vital to working productively.
Make sure you are only ever doing one thing at a time. This means not working on a proposal while also typing out an email in another window. One thing at a time!
12. Delegation is King
No one can work in a vacuum. If you have colleagues available, use them!
No one will be impressed if you take too much work on and refuse help in an effort to seem super-productive and capable. No one is an island. Delegation shows efficiency, leadership, and a focus on productivity.
13. Enforce Deadlines
Any experienced worker can attest to this: without a deadline, nothing gets finished. This may be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly true that not as much gets done if you have no deadlines to stick to.
So, set regular deadlines, and don’t just stick to them, enforce them – even on yourself! Nothing is more motivating than a ticking clock.
14. Learn How to Say “No”
It’s easy to take on more tasks than you can manage in an effort to please or seem capable. Yet, you will be helping no one if you cannot finish everything on time. Learn how much you can do in a set amount of time and be realistic about what tasks you accept.
If you are already working on something and think the quality of your work will suffer if you take more on, then it’s always OK to say “no”. People respect someone who knows their limits.
Time Management Strategies: the Techniques Are There For You
In a world of increasingly independent and remote work, being able to manage your own time is more important than ever.
If you employ any number of these time management tips into your day to day life, you will soon notice an improvement in everything from productivity and focus, to stress and self-control. Being a quality worker starts with yourself. With these techniques, you will be well on your way to taking more control over your working life.
Do you want an app for that? We also selected the best time management apps, but also free time management apps for tight budgets, and if you’re looking for a time tracking app, we picked the best of them.