"Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important." - Steven Covey
Whether you’re an experienced professional or a rookie, there will always be moments when you feel you need an extra hour or two to finish your tasks. It’s impossible to be in control of every minute of your workday, but it’s worth trying to rule most of the day while being the most productive you can be.
Time management skills are not easy to acquire, but they can significantly improve your career once you possess them.
Please don’t take it the wrong way: being busy all the time does not equal being productive. You have to be smart in handling your work to be effective and at top performance.
In the following lines, we will see what time management is, what skills are, the benefits of handling your time at work, and a concise but straightforward plan for better time management in the workplace. It’s an article both for employees and for managers.
Time management is the process of organizing and planning the way to spend your time on all activities. It’s the method that helps you prioritize your tasks to allocate the perfect amount of time to finish each and every one of your projects. Effective time management at work will increase efficiency and will help have a better work-life balance.
Organization: Maybe the most important, at least in the top 3. Being an organized professional can take you very far since it can support preserving the big picture, knowing what is due and when. So when can we say a person is organized in the workplace? When he/she has a well-kept office, with all the supplies in order, when his/her calendar is always up-to-date when missing a meeting is not an option, when locating documents is not an issue, and also when he/she decides to get organized with useful, relevant notes. You can even go as far as unsubscribing to unnecessary emails to eliminate distractions.
Setting realistic goals: it’s a needed skill because you can plan the whole work and prioritize tasks as needed by having an end goal. You should consider setting both short-term and long-term goals. Set goals that are achievable, realistic and measurable, to be able to track your progress.
Prioritization: you should do a “priority-setting” session every day or at least every week. For a good result, you need to know your power to work, your rhythm, if some tasks require collaboration with colleagues, therefore those may not be in your total control.
You can choose to start with small tasks that require little time and then get to the most pressing projects that require your full attention, focus, and devotion. Or the other way around. If you feel you have too many tasks per day, start analyzing: how many do you really need to get done on that precise day? Make sure you complete the most important ones.
Scheduling is crucial for handling your time at work since some tasks can only be done at specific times while others have pressing deadlines. Scheduling your day, week, and month will help immensely and will affect your activity and the activity of others. A good example of effective scheduling is dividing vast goals into milestones and milestones into little projects. You also need to be punctual in order to achieve a great level of scheduling.
Effective communication: another key skill in this time management game. Developing great communication skills will allow you to clearly present your goals and plans to your peers or managers.
Also, learn to say no. It’s not wrong. You don’t always have to help others get your tasks done first. Just do it politely.
This skill will also help in delegating, which is the next desired skill.
Delegation: this applies mostly to managers, and it’s a very important skill. You can’t do it all alone, you need to focus on the strategic plans and projects and delegate smaller tasks to your team. You can even outsource some tasks to freelancers to free up your time if your staff is too swamped already. Make the most of your time.
Stress management: work shouldn’t be everything, so don’t forget about your mental health and general well-being. If you manage to handle stress positively, you will be at a higher motivation and productivity level. You can achieve this by taking small but constant breaks over the day or by stopping when completing big tasks and rewarding yourself.
Other examples of time management skills are:
There are so many benefits, and you will see that time management skills will positively impact your work activity day by day:
Effective time management is not impossible to achieve. So here are six steps you should consider in your journey for improvement:
Planning is not about following an extremely strict routine, where you plan every minute of the day. It’s about knowing the right time for each task, the deadline for each project to be completed, it’s about working smarter, regardless of your position or role.
There are many ways you can choose to use prioritization. For example, you can categorize tasks into urgent/non-urgent, important/slightly important, crucial for success/insignificant for success. Prioritization will allow you to understand that not everything you do is essential (for you, for the company as a whole).
Reduce or eliminate multitasking
Multitasking is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. You may believe you are good at everything, but by trying to solve all the work yourself, you will just become overwhelmed sooner than usual, and the quality of the work you perform will decrease big time. Make a list of the things you MUST do yourself, and the other can and should be delegated to other members of your team.
Use a time tracking system
Technology is our best friend! Using time tracking software is one of the most effective methods to manage your time perfectly. Such a system will allow you to track and manage time spent on every task. Absence management will also become a more manageable challenge for managers and HR professionals.
Identify your most productive hours
You should observe yourself to detect your most productive hours and then make sure that you will take on the most important tasks during that interval.
We are all very different, so there is no perfect recipe. Some work better before lunch, others 1 or 2 hours after lunch. It depends. But finding that ideal interval may be key to better time management.
We hope you are fully convinced of the importance of time management skills after reading this article. By developing or improving this type of skills, you will create better habits, which will lead to a more productive and focused version of you.
Good time management promotes the achievement of bigger goals, reduces procrastination, and allows for smarter working every day.
"I must govern the clock, not be governed by it." - Golda Meir