Whether you work from home or in a busy office, one of the most important skills you can gain is effective time management. When you feel stressed with more work than you can cope with or have the weight of too many workplace responsibilities, learning how to improve your time management skills is key to having the ability to structure your workload, manage your deadlines, and lower your stress levels.
What is time management?
Time is a precious commodity in any situation, but there’s no great science behind effective time management, especially in a working environment – it’s just about creating the right mindset. It will help you use your time more effectively or productively and help to plan and organise efficiently so you make the best use of your time.
It sounds simple enough, but it’s a skill that many of us can find difficult to master. As a result, we can often find ourselves with additional work to complete or extra work on existing projects which hasn’t been planned for, and not enough time to get it all done. But it can also have a knock-on effect for any other tasks, paving the way for deadlines slipping or not being met at all and stress levels rising.
Why is time management important?
Time management is not so much important, as essential to our working lives, with almost everything we do in the workplace having a level of time management attached to it. But we all know there are plenty of diversions to distract us every day. A report from 2016 by the UK branch of US company Workfront, shows us some data on why time management is so important, including:
- On average, employees are wasting over 11 hours a week, costing thousands every year
- Less than 60% of any working day is spent productively
- Unscheduled meetings hold back productivity for 40% of employees
- Employees spend 4 hours a day managing email, although only 14% of emails are likely to be crucial to their work.
Working on your time management will help to improve all these things and more, with great benefits to you and your employer. You’ll benefit from improved productivity, better efficiency, reduced stress or anxiety, and overall better mental and physical wellbeing. But your employers can also take advantage of reduced absenteeism – as well as presenteeism – happier staff, and an improved working environment.
Your own time management skills may take some time to develop and can differ from someone else’s. But finding what suits and works for you and your workload is key. Here are seven proven time management techniques to help you improve and increase your productivity every day.
1. Create a ‘to do’ list
Start each working day by taking a short amount of time to think about your tasks and what you need to achieve that day. Write them out, giving yourself a numbered list so you can track your progress as you tackle each task throughout your day. You can then see what you’ve completed to give you a sense of achievement.
2. Prioritise your tasks
By factoring in some planning time, you can also prioritise your work according to your ‘to do’ list. Place the things that need your attention at the top, followed by the unimportant, non-urgent, or non-essential tasks down below. By lowering the priority of these tasks, your valuable time can be spent more productively by focusing on the top priority tasks.
3. Don’t be afraid to delegate
No matter how you organise your time, there will always be times when you’ll have too much to cope with. So rather than hanging onto these tasks and risking an increase in stress or anxiety levels, try delegating to your colleagues. This is a good sign of proper time management and will allow you to be more productive in other areas.
4. Don’t multi-task
Multi-tasking was always seen as a sign of competence and being able to do more than one thing at once, therefore getting more done, but this dilutes both productivity and efficiency. Allow yourself full concentration and focus by doing only one task at a time. By waiting until you’ve finished one task before starting on another, you’ll get better results.
5. Manage your email
Unless monitoring email is key to your role, one of the worst things for your productivity is stopping your workflow to respond to each email as it comes in. Try and limit your email use to 2 or 3 specific times during the day, setting aside 20 – 30 minutes to reading and responding to them – and try and keep emails as short, sweet, and to the point as possible.
6. Stop procrastinating!
Procrastination is the biggest waste of your time, energy, and productivity. It usually comes when you’re faced with a task that you don’t like or when you’re feeling overwhelmed, bored, or out of your depth. Avoiding procrastination can be hard, especially when you know it’s a delaying tactic, but by creating goals, you can reward yourself to help you stay on track.
7. Say ‘no’ more often
This is a general strategy, but saying ‘no’ can work wonders for your time management. Saying ‘no’ to procrastination, overly chatty co-workers, and especially taking on extra work, gives you more time and productivity for the tasks you already have. It’s doesn’t need to be a blunt ‘no’, but being honest and explaining your workload to others will certainly help you.
Let us improve your time management
Effective time management does require practice and patience, but you can end up with a fresh way of organising your priorities to help you achieve more. And once you’re able to identify what methods work best for you, you’ll be able to focus more effectively so you can get more done, more efficiently.
When you, or your team, want to take more control over your working day and manage the way your work time is spent more effectively, our 1-day course on Effective Time Management Training will help you create a plan of action to reach your productivity goals.
The course is delivered by our fully qualified training professionals and looks at key topics including getting and staying organised, keeping yourself motivated, the art of delegation and saying ’no’ and learning the time management matrix. Limited to a maximum group size of 15 people, the course can be tailored to meet your own objectives and delivered at a time and venue of your choosing.
Get started today
Contact us today to find out how we can help you start the process towards positive change in your workplace.