Time management is a critical skill that can help you become more productive, reduce stress, and achieve your goals. However, managing your time effectively can be a challenging task, especially if you struggle with procrastination or feel overwhelmed by your workload.
In this blog post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to improve your time management skills. We will cover everything from assessing your current time management habits and setting priorities to creating a schedule that works for you, avoiding distractions, and using tools and strategies to increase your productivity.
By following these steps, you can learn how to manage your time effectively and make the most out of your day. Whether you are a student, a busy professional, or simply looking to improve your personal productivity, this guide will provide you with the tools and strategies you need to improve your time management skills and achieve your goals.
So, if you are ready to take control of your time and become more productive, let’s dive into the world of time management!
1. Produce a time log for a week
A weekly log will show you how you currently spend your time and how much you spend on non-productive tasks. This will be helpful with managing how you spend your time, especially if you are hybrid working.
2. Use the important/urgent matrix to prioritise tasks
This matrix ensures that you only spend time on important and urgent tasks (i.e. your top priorities). Anything else can wait!
3. Focus on important/urgent tasks when you’re most alert
This allows optimum concentration. But remember to flip between high and low-attention tasks or take a micro-break (see point 5 below) to let your brain recover from mentally demanding activities.
4. Compile a ‘To-do’ list every day
A to-do list tracks all your priorities in one place and your progress. It structures what you have to get done, and you’ll get a sense of achievement as you’ll see you’re making progress. It is particularly useful when working from home as you’ll need to be more self-disciplined. Some choose to do this at the end of each day, others first thing in the morning.
5. Take micro-breaks between tasks
If you’re working at home, making a coffee and walking around for a short time reinvigorates you and benefits your posture. It ensures optimum concentration when you return to your desk. What’s more, if people around you (colleagues or family members) know you’ll be available later, this can limit their interruptions.
6. Look for signs of procrastination and take action
We procrastinate for many reasons (everything from unpleasant tasks to a fear of failure, perfectionism, feeling overwhelmed or a lack of organisation). Homeworkers beware: Daytime TV, long lunches, and social media can all lure you away from your primary focus. Don’t let them take over. If you procrastinate, figure out why and take action before you end up swamped. If you don’t, you’ll be working late into the night to catch up!
7. Manage meetings
Avoid all unnecessary meetings. If there’s no agenda or the right people (i.e. decision-makers) cannot attend, reschedule it.
8. Manage email
Switch off email notifications and check emails just two or three times a day; keep emails succinct and avoid ‘Replying to All’. Don’t look at your emails first thing. Instead, complete important/urgent tasks. Set aside short bursts of time (15-20 mins max) for responding to emails unless it’s core to your job; use folders to organise emails.
9. Learn to say no
What can you do to deal with a chatty colleague, a demanding boss who’s heaping more work on you, a customer who’s in no hurry to let you get on, or – at home – an unexpected visitor or curious family member? Rehearse strategies for dealing with interruptions and learn to say no without offending.
10. Reduce your exposure
For tasks that require intense focus, don’t be afraid to turn off your emails or instant message notifications, put your smartphone on silent, even go and work in another office to minimise distractions. If you’re home working, headphones help limit interruptions. Plus, they are a visual reminder to others that you are busy. Finally, remember to respect others’ time by keeping your interruptions to a minimum too! By making every second of work time count, you’ll have even more time to spend on the other things you love.