Good time management can make your working day a great deal easier and do away with the stress of your workload; moreover, great time management will see you get through copious amounts of work and surely see you progress in your professional career. Getting on top of your time management will also not just make you a more productive employee, it will also help you avoid procrastination, help you relax more throughout your working day and get rid of any workplace anxiety you might have! The tips that I’ve listed below are general time management tips and may not suit everyone’s working styles. A period of trial and error will help you find the ones that work for you and from there, you can learn to implement them in a way that maximises your productivity.
1. Start With a List
The first place to start to improve your time management is to make a list of what you have to do. Lists might be basic but they can make a huge difference if you have the discipline to stick to them. At the start of your working day you should make a list that is, above all, realistic. The worst thing you can do is try to be too ambitious by listing 20 things that you want to get done and then looking back at the end of the day and realising that you’ve only managed to finish 10 of them.
2. One Task at-a-time
Multi-tasking can be your friend at times, if you can handle brushing your teeth and getting dressed for the working day then that’s great; however, multi-tasking at work just will not work as well for most people. Your mind will be at its most productive and efficient when you focus on one task at-a-time. Trying to juggle two or more at a time will likely result in you being less productive, taking more time to get them finished and also completing the task to a lower standard.
3. Downtime... What Downtime?
Admittedly, sometimes it’s better to just let your mind slow down for a bit and recharge, but sometimes it’s best to use your downtime to get small tasks done. If you hit some traffic on the way to work then start thinking about the tasks you have to do on that day and mentally prioritise them. If you do run into downtime that gives you the opportunity to get small things done then make the most of it!
4. Think of the End Result
If you have to send an e-mail or make a call then take a minute or two prior and think about what it is that you want to achieve with the call or e-mail. Once you know what you want to achieve, you will know exactly what you need to cover on the call or in the e-mail. Immediately after the call you should ensure that you’ve met all of the requirements of the communication and if you haven’t, think of why you haven’t and avoid making that mistake again in another call or e-mail.
5. Deadlines are your Ally.
Just as with your lists, when you are setting deadlines you should be realistic. Setting unrealistic deadlines will inevitably result in you having to move the deadline or produce a rushed or unfinished end product. Another great habit to pick up is to set the deadlines for important tasks a few days before you must have them finished. This gives you time to finish the task, go through the work that you’ve done in the days afterward and also manage any urgent tasks that might come up in the meantime.
6. Make Appointments with Yourself
If you have a particularly important task, whether it’s a client report, phone call or anything else, you should make an appointment with yourself and treat it just like any other appointment. Having the self discipline to stick to these appointments will grant you the time you need to focus on and complete the important task and will also help you avoid distraction.
7. Don’t be a Slave to Communication
Just because the phone is ringing doesn’t mean you have to answer it right away, the same goes for e-mails. In most businesses it’s not essential to offer an immediate response and if your business is anything like this then continue with your work and schedule a time to return calls and e-mails.
It’s also worth remembering that instant chat services such as Skype can be your friend but also your foe. It can be useful to communicate with team members but getting drawn into conversations can waste time and cause you to lose focus.
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