The Golden Rules for Better Time Management
If only there were more than just 24 hours in a day…
“You may delay, but time will not.”
We know you’ve heard it before – you can’t get back lost time. We also know that spending time wisely isn’t always an easy task, and on some days it’s definitely more difficult than others. We put together a guide for how to get your schedule on track to make you the most productive you can be.
1. Know Your Goals
What you work on throughout your workday needs to beneficial to you and your company, or else you are essentially wasting your time. Think about what your personal goals are, both short and long term, as well as the goals of the business you work for. Focus on projects and tasks that will generate a positive outcome (like growth or income). Having a goal to work towards will help you make more of a conscious effort to use your time in the best way possible.
2. Categorize Your To-Dos
Organizing your list of things to do will take a world of weight off your shoulders and help ensure efficiency. Knowing what you must do and what each task requires will make you better prepared and less likely to lose time scrambling for information.
Create a categorized list (like a spreadsheet) or filing system (for paperwork) and arrange your obligations by “to read” or “to contact” or whatever else makes sense for your job. Whenever new tasks are given to you, instead of immediately diving into it or setting it aside, properly arrange it to maximize your achievements.
Once you know what your responsibilities are, you’ll need to prioritize. While you may sometimes be tempted to get easier tasks out of the way first, it’s crucial that you stay aware of importance and urgency when getting your work done.
Anything with a deadline will take (obvious) priority over anything without a deadline, and any projects deemed important due to content, effect, or otherwise will take priority over the less important duties. Getting your assignments done on time or in advance will earn you major points with your employer or employees and will make your work life significantly less stressful.
4. Log How You Spend Your Time
Keep a journal of how you’re delegating your time over a period of several weeks. Every day, record what you do and when. After enough time has passed, examine how much time you’re spending on specific pieces of work. This will help you see what your most productive times are, what responsibilities take you more time and which ones take you less, and how much time you’re wasting on distractions.
Once you’re familiar with just how you’re spending your time on average, you’ll be ready for our next step.
5. Set Time Limits
Do you have certain tasks that take you about the same amount of time every time you do them? Assign them a reasonable time limit. Have a project with a deadline? Give yourself time to work on it each day, but not so much time that it seems daunting or even boring to do.
Keeping control of how much time you’re allotting to each of your tasks will minimize how often you let yourself get distracted. For example, set aside one hour for responding to emails, one hour for making phone calls, and so on and so forth. Make your time limits logical but keep efficiency in mind. But remember, keep the 30 second rule in mind – can it be done in thirty seconds or less? Do it now!
6. Create a Routine
Once you’re familiar with how much time you’re using per project or daily task, create a schedule. Have a daily, weekly, or monthly calendar on hand (whatever is easiest for you to follow) and start to follow a routine. Maybe you find that a fifteen-minute coffee break in the middle of your morning means you get more work done than on days where you have no coffee at all, so include that break in your routine. Or maybe you think it’s easier to do difficult or boring tasks right before you leave for the day instead of struggling with them earlier in the day.
Whatever method of working makes the best usage of your time, apply that to your routine. Knowing the time limits you have in place for each assignment will make this infinitely easier!
7. Get Rid of Distractions
Yes, this does mean sometimes you need to put your phone away or maybe not bring that book with you to work. Disable YouTube and Netflix from being accessible so that the temptation to watch your favorite vloggers and TV shows all day goes away. Make it known that you only make or take calls between certain times of the day, so your work line isn’t incessantly ringing. Keep personal activities to breaks or outside of your workday entirely (unless it’s an emergency).
8. Organize Your Space
Have a messy desk? Buy paper trays for any documents you need on hand and cups for your writing utensils. Have a filing cabinet for storing important papers. Use a planner or a notebook instead of cluttering your desk with a million post-it notes. Keep sanitizing wipes nearby to clean up crumbs or other messes. Store your personal items under your desk or in a drawer.
Making sure that your work space is clean and tidy will lead to a couple of things: a clear head for focusing and no time being wasted looking for things that are lost in a pile of unorganized mess.
While it may require some of your valuable time to implement these steps into your everyday work life, doing so will help you better manage your time. With our easy, 8 step guide, we hope you can regain control of your time to start feeling more accomplished and less stressed out when you leave the office at the end of the day!