Time management can be one of the most useful skills to master in your professional and personal life. Have you ever said to yourself, “if only I had more time”? If so, you are not alone. Research shows that 78% of workers wish that they had more time. While it is impossible to add more time to a day, there are effective ways to manage your time and get the most out of your 24 hours. By following our time management tips, you can make the most of your work day and improve your work life balance.
1 – Determine your most productive time of day. Keep a journal for 2-3 weeks and track what tasks you accomplish, when, and how long each task took to complete. Everyone has a time of day that is most productive for them. Some people do their best work first thing in the morning and others don’t get into a good rhythm until later in the afternoon. By keeping track of your tasks, you can look for patterns and determine when you are at your most productive. Then, schedule difficult tasks or challenging meetings during your most productive time of day and save the easier tasks for your less productive times.
2 – Group like tasks together. The process of grouping similar tasks together is called batching. It takes the average person 15 minutes to regain complete focus once they have become distracted. Batching is a great time management tool because it limits distractions and allows you to transition from one task to another effortlessly. Set aside dedicated time to work on each batch of work. Avoid checking social media sites or answering emails until you reach the allotted time for those activities.
3 – Prioritize your To-Do list. Surprisingly, not all To-Do lists are created equal. The most effective ones will note the priority in which each item needs to be completed and the due date. Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day to review your to-do list. Rearrange the items on the list in order of highest priority to lowest priority. Once you have your tasks prioritized, you won’t waste time trying to decide which task to tackle next.
4 – Create an agenda for every meeting. The average worker spends 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. ½ of the time that is spent in meetings is considered wasted time. People often arrive to meetings without a clear understanding on the topic, the discussion points, or the expectations. This confusion can be avoided by emailing all meeting attendees a clear agenda a day or two prior to the meeting. This allows everyone time to review the topics and expectations and pull together information if needed. As a result, you will spend less time in unproductive meetings which will open up valuable time for you to dedicate on other priorities.
5 – Learn to say no. Sometimes the best thing that you can do to improve your time management skills is to simply learn to say no. You can’t be everything to everyone. You have to choose what is most important to you and focus your time and your energy on those priorities. Whenever someone asks you to complete a task that does not align with your priorities, say no. You are in charge of your time. There are only 24 hours in each day so make them count!