Good time management enables you to work smarter, not harder, so that you get more done in less time. Doesn’t that sound like music to your ears? Managing your time might sound as something simple but most of us probably still have a lot to learn on this topic. Remember that being busy isn’t the same as being effective. Ironically enough being busy many times means you are being far from effective.
Managing your time is an important skill in the working world. There is always room for improvement, therefore we looked into ways how to improve your time management skills.
“Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities.”
First, it’s important to know that there are two types of time: Clock time and real time.
- In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally.
- In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing. real time is more mental than physical. You are the one that creates it in your mind. Anything you create, you can manage.
There are three different ways how you can spend your time. This can be through thoughts, conversations or actions. Regardless of the type of job, your work will be composed of those three ways.
Take around 30 minutes every day to make a day plan. Planning is one of the essential time management skills because it allows you to foresee all the tasks which will be required to reach your goal or complete a project. A well-made plan will save you a great deal of time.
This is an important point to remember. You’ll find that there will always be tasks on your day plan that should not have been there in the first place. So, with prioritising your tasks start with avoiding the tasks you should not be doing. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on completing the most valuable tasks you have to do within the time you’ve got available.
Basically, remember to eat the frog first. It’s said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long.
Take a few minutes before you start a task/make a call to think about what result you want from it. This will help you to work towards your goal. Once you’ve finished your task take a moment to think if you reached your goal. If not, why not? What was missing? And how will you improve this next time?
You should always be aware of your goals and how each action is bringing you closer to achieving these goals.
Regardless of what you are trying to do, there will always be something else competing for your attention. It’s not easy to shut everything out and focus on the task at hand. Focus is one of those time management skills where you don’t realise how important it is until you struggle with it.
No matter how many tasks you need to do, you can only work on one task at a time. Yes we have heard the term multi-tasking many times but if you want to improve your time management skills, you need to learn to focus at one task a time.
Block out distraction
Don’t pick up the phone or answer emails the moment they pop up on your screen. It’s good to switch of from email for a bit every day, as emails are a great distraction. Schedule a time to answer emails and return phone calls. Unless when it’s of high importance that you respond immediately.
The same goes for social media. This is also a great distraction and just a quick look turns in to 30 minutes before you know it.
Everyone has their own way how they like to work. Some are early birds who work best in the morning, others prefer to work late. Everyone is motivated in a different way and prefers to work differently. It’s important that you have a good understanding of what your likes, dislikes and needs are. When you are aware of these you are able to tailor your time management towards this. Which in return will make you more effectively.
There will always be days where you can’t find your motivation. You need to find a way to get yourself motivated even if you don’t want to. Knowing how to motivate yourself goes hand in hand with your self-awareness. If you are aware of what you like, dislike and need you can us this to motivate yourself.
Not everything always goes according to plan and mistakes will be made. When something goes wrong don’t give up and spend a lot of time thinking about it. Review the situation and see what can be improved and implement that action. Time management is not just a behavioural skill. It is cognitive too. Your thinking and mindset play a massive role in determining your results. Knowing how to cope with setbacks will help you bounce back quickly and reduce the amount of time lost when things go wrong.
Coping with stress
With a job comes pressure. Pressure can motivate you but when you feel you are no longer able to cope with the pressure you move from pressure to experiencing stress. Stress can have a negative impact on your efficiency and time management. When you are having stress, you will have so many things on your mind that you will find it practically impossible to focus on tasks you have to do. Which will end up in taking longer to complete tasks.
Try to prevent having to do too many tasks at once, in this way you can prevent getting stressed.
Keeping track of everything
Try to be on top of everything and know exactly what’s going on. If you are aware of what has to be done you can make effective decisions more easily and provide information quicker. It’s hard to remember everything off the top of your head, so this is not required of you. But you will be surprised how time saving it is if you know where to find the necessary information when you need it.
Have a system in place that is easy to navigate around to find the information you need.
Time management isn’t just about getting more work done, it’s about ensuring that you get the important work done. You can rush work, but there is a chance you make mistakes and rectifying mistakes takes time. Keep in mind, patience is key! Patience is a skill and needs practice. Don’t rush things, take the time the job requires to be done properly.