Too many appointments in your weekly calendar? Hard to get focus and trying to juggle around your work or social commitments? Are you always in pressure for achieving your goals? Do you find it hard dealing with stress?
All of us have experienced these scenarios at some point in our lives and each time we felt that our time management skills are challenged all the way. Even though we all know what time management is, however, some situations make us pass through a trial and error process and become a learning experience after all. Well, worry less and smile more, because we’ve created for you a list of top tips and techniques that work! You will find powerful tools divided into two main categories that cover both your professional and personal life.
If you ask a CEO or a human resources person what it takes to grow a business, surely time management would appear on top of their choices. This applies not only to office workers but to employees from all departments, as it is an essential skill that distinguishes them as trustworthy and professional people for the job.
For some of us, it all comes naturally, while for others it can be quite a hassle. We invite you to see below what are some great tips at work for self-organization and time management that you can easily follow to increase productivity.
Scheduling is defined by the act of planning and prioritizing tasks and events in such a way that it will help you deliver results within the available time.
You can start by making this a habit – for example, to create your schedule at the start of every week or month. The simple way is to use a pen and paper on a weekly planner (for a free sample of such a template, you can download a weekly planner in PDF format. Otherwise, if you prefer to go digital, Outlook or Google Calendar might be the right tool for you. Once you have decided, prepare your schedule as follows:
A popular misconception is that a schedule limits ‘freedom’, but the opposite is true. A time management schedule can help you to increase productivity and to boost your career by efficiently organizing the activities, so you don’t have to constantly decide what to do when or not to forget any important job commitment.
In our daily lives, urgent actions and tasks require instant attention and fast execution. However not every task is urgent. Dealing with urgent matters first is critical for your success in the long run.
This is why, the best practice in time management is to start your day by checking your to-do list and prioritizing your work, by urgency. By following this practice, you will focus on the actions that are critical and require your immediate action and postpone the ones that can be delayed for later.
This would help you determine which tasks need your utmost attention and which ones can be delayed a lot. So, why waiting further? Start prioritizing now! We invite you to read below about the Eisenhower Matrix, a practical strategy to guide you in this process.
Eisenhower Matrix is described as a way of prioritizing tasks based on their urgency. One famous quote from its author describes the core meaning of this method: “most things which are urgent are not important, and most things that are important are not urgent”. The matrix represents a decision-making model that categorizes tasks into four quadrants: Do, Decide, Delegate, Eliminate.
Interruptions are a common challenge in the workplace, as open-plan designs of the offices make it difficult to focus on our activities. Besides in-person interruptions, we’re constantly bombarded with emails, phone calls, messages and so much more.
Let’s build a deeper understanding of three of the biggest time wasters everybody experiences daily: emails, meetings, and smartphones.
At first glance, it seems counterintuitive, but emails are on top of this list. Why? Since we stay in front of screens for a long period, email is most probably the most important communication methods that we have. Answering email messages we get a feeling of progress while receiving emails from our bosses highlights the sense of urgency, and importance. Doing the thing that you have started, should be your main priority. Receiving even a sound notification for a new email is distracting you from that task, and coming back to it could take some minutes. There are among the best practices to save you time. The zero inbox policy is a great start. With no unread emails to cloud your mind, the idea is to delete, delegate or to deal immediately the email messages. A good alternative is keeping everything in your inbox and replying selectively only to the most important emails. Other good tips are to check your emails only twice a day and trying to reply with short and concise answers instead of getting lost in details.
In business, when analyzing the biggest time wasters, besides emails we can add meetings. More than 50% of the meetings are completely unnecessary, as they don’t have a clear agenda or don’t end up with a specific plan of action. They also need prior preparation, change of location, small talk, exchange of opinions, etc. However, meetings can add value in certain cases. Examples of great and beneficial meetings consist of brainstorming sessions, strategy dialogues, business planning, and the culture of building bridges between the team members.
Smartphones are another tool that is around our daily interaction both at work and personal. Every time we got a message or call, we’re stopping out core activity and focus on another aspect (ie. not multitasking) and getting back to work while being preoccupied with the recent information received from the caller. Some of the most productive people highlight that they either close the phone or they turn their phones in silent mode.
You can choose from a wide range of techniques for time management, but the most important thing is to decide on the one that works for you. We have three time management tips that you could start with:
Over 2 million people have already used this technique to transform their lives and to become more productive, more focused. This deceptively simple and life-changing system teaches you how to work with time, instead of struggling against it. The core process consists of 6 steps: choose a task you'd like to get done, set the timer for 25 minutes, work without interruptions on the task, end work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper, take a short break (3-5 minutes), every four checkmarks take a longer break (20-30 minutes).
Starting from the principle developed by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, this technique can be simplified as follows: “80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action”. Therefore, to manage your time effectively and best achieve your professional goals, it is recommended to start first with the tasks in your top 20% instead of the bottom 80%.
Another practical task and time management strategy is the one that requires setting a fixed time interval to complete an activity or project. In this way, after you have time has ended you can reflect if you have finished your objective, or need more time to deal with the remaining aspects. The Pomodoro method can be considered a time-boxing example.
The term ‘agile’ refers to the popular software development methodology that integrates several practices and values such as adaptive planning, early delivery, continuous improvement, collaboration, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Although some agile tips and strategies may not apply, its main concepts can be transposed to many areas of our professional life. How can we do that? It’s not very complicated. Through a process of constant self-awareness, we can identify what is holding us back, how we can work around these roadblocks, and what progress might appear in the next few days or weeks.
The agile philosophy teaches us three concrete facets when referring to time management:
Time tracking is essential to understand how you spend your time and how much productivity you had on a workday. Are you aware of how much time it took to compose all those emails, browse the internet, create several reports or draft that business plan? The insights you get can often be an eye-opener.
There are hundreds of software tools to ease the discovery of your digital time spent. These solutions are often available on multiple platforms (macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android) or trough a Google Chrome productivity extension and the data can be easily synchronized.
Among the benefits of time tracking, we can include personal and business insights into time spent, learning from experience, enhancing productivity, improving efficiency, transparency into work processes, ability to analyze the workflow and to make adjustments if needed.
If you want to be successful with your time, it is important not to think only about productivity at work, but also act smartly with time in your life.
As we have parents, kids, or lovers, it's important to have a joyful life beyond work. It's important to enjoy our hobbies, to relax have fun and recharge, travel, read a book, do some sports, learn a new skill, or just wonder. Life isn't made just for work. We are more fulfilled when there is a solid work/life balance. Our lives become more meaningful if we invest in our relationships, and into the better versions of ourselves.
As a business owner, you should cultivate a solid work-life balance, since it helps you to hire better talent, and the retention rates will increase.
By disconnecting, by relaxing and unwinding, we allow our body and mind to recharge and gain the energy to be more efficient. A healthy lifestyle will definitely boost your energy, performance and creativity. This doesn't mean that in your personal life you can't be productive, and deal smartly your personal time. Find below some tips around it.
Biorhythms are body clocks that have an impact on the physical, emotional and intellectual dimensions of humans. The individual cycles include two categories of people. If you are used to waking up around 6:00-7:00 am or earlier, most probably you are having a high energy biorhythm in the first half of the day. Those who are used to staying awake and working until late hours are evening people or night owls.
For effective time management in your personal life, start by identifying your biorhythm. Get some rest or have a walk during the less energetic time of the day and perform intellectual activities during the hours when you feel the most productive and concentrated.
To keep up your good mood and energy, be sure to have enough sleep and exercise. A balanced diet is also important for maintaining your health and achieving your goals.
In the article “5 Time Management Tips for Professional”, Tony Robbins identifies four zones of productivity corresponding to time targets:
This is the ideal zone for spending quality time and working towards your personal goals. You might invest resources for your passions, your family or anything else that gives true meaning to your existence. Aim to spend at least 65% of your time here.
Here, we can experience all sorts of things that we haven’t taken into consideration until that moment. A maximum of 20% time spent is recommended. An inspiring quote says that “good things can come from unexpected places”, so don’t be afraid, let the unexpected find you!
Stress can have an impact on all areas of our lives and is caused by multiple factors, some of them out of our control. When dealing with a task in such an area, ask yourself if it is worth continuing or how future situations can be avoided. You don’t want to spend any more than 10% of your time here.
Zone 4: When exhausted, you operate in Zone 4
This zone is about reconnecting with your inner self before getting too tired out. Try not to spend more than 5% of your time here and not to lose the objective connection with reality.
Keep it simple, or “less is more,” is a concept from minimalism that has been successfully applied in various areas such as software development, architecture, design of everyday things, etc. Find your inspiration in this principle that states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Try to apply it in your life and have a few things as possible. You don’t need much to find your inner peace and dedicate enough time for your passions. Make room for happiness and just breathe deeply...
In close connection with the previous concept, we should thoroughly analyze the things that increase the quality of our lives versus the things that decrease its quality (waste). The first category includes things filled with positive energy that lead us to achieve our potential, unleash our creativity, create strong relationships, feel healthier and more energetic. The second category, however, refers to things that bring the negative into our lives, such as bad relationships, worrying too much, lack of environmental awareness, etc. Stop spending time on all such waste and you will have a lot more time for doing the things that make you happy. Be the best version of yourself, or at least try!
There are many productivity tips and time management strategies. Each one of us have favourites. Share with us what are yours.
We all get the same 24 hours in a day, but some of us seem to make significantly more of those hours than others. Discover 11 time management tips to embrace daily and boost your productivity at the workplace and in personal life.
In the long term, being organized and rigorous is nevertheless the best way to success and accomplishments in life, both personally and professionally. At the bottom line, there is never enough time to do all things, but there is always enough time to do the important ones. We wish you all the best with being productive and reaching your goals!