Time management is a skill that can make or break your career. However, people aren’t born productive. If you don’t feel like you’re skilled in this area, the good news is that time management isn’t a talent — it’s a skill you can develop. We have some tips to help you learn about it and start utilizing it moving forward.
Benefits of Time Management
Learning to be good at time management can make your life easier in the long run in so many ways. Effective time management can reduce stress, give you more opportunities at work, and enhance your ability to achieve goals. Once you experience the benefits of this skill, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to learn it!
You need to manage your time effectively in every aspect of life to reach your full potential. Although your work-life balance makes it seem like your job and the rest of your life should be separate, one always affects the other. Both are elevated when you learn to manage your time effectively.
No matter your job or how much you work, you’re bound to experience stress. At least a portion of that stress is probably due to a lack of scheduling and managing your time. When you learn to set goals and prioritize tasks, you are more likely to reduce stress and enjoy work more.
Seeing your to-do list in real-time and blocking time to finish tasks can help you breathe a little easier and use your time more effectively. Be in charge of your schedule instead of letting your schedule be in charge of you. More than almost anything else, this will help relieve stress at work.
Creating a list of everything you need to do and scheduling time to do those things may help you realize that you have more time to accomplish your goals than you thought. It helps to write out your entire day and what you need to do at any given time.
The act of time blocking can help focus more deeply and finish your tasks faster — and with greater success. You can block out distractions because you know exactly what you should be doing at specific times.
When you have more time, you may find yourself with more opportunities. These opportunities could be at work, in your personal life, or even both. You can grow and excel in your career when you know how to manage your time well.
Your supervisors will start to notice that you are managing your time effectively, and they might start offering you more opportunities and chances to further your career and your goals. Being able to meet deadlines with aplomb once you know how to manage your time will show others that you are capable and responsible enough to take on other responsibilities and projects.
Ability to Achieve Goals
Whatever goals you want to achieve in your life, effective time management can help you get there. You won’t be scrambling to find time to work on your own projects because you’re overwhelmed by deadlines and work projects. After learning how to manage your time with schedules, to-do lists, time blocking, etc., you’ll be able to start adding your own goals, both short- and long-term, into your life and shooting for the stars.
Time management skills take little to no innate talent to develop, so don’t give up if it takes some time to get the hang of it. Keep working at it and see the difference it can make in your life.
Tips for Effective Time Management
Now it’s time to dive into our tips for effective time management. Implementing these strategies into your work and personal life can make all the difference for you. You might find yourself with more time to do the things you want to do, and you can finish work tasks faster and with more skill without feeling overwhelmed or rushed through tasks to meet deadlines.
People in your life might notice that you excel at time management, and they’ll want to know your secrets. It’s no big secret, though. Just learn some skills and integrate them into your life to create new habits.
Set Goals Correctly
While any sort of goal is a move in the right direction, it’s essential to set goals correctly. Your goals need to be achievable and realistic. You should set daily, weekly, monthly, and long-term goals. All of your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. You can then put your plans into to-do lists.
When your goals are too nebulous, they’re pretty tricky to accomplish. Solidify your plans and know what you want from your career and personal life. And remember, a goal that isn’t written down is just a wish. Write down your goals and focus on what you want to accomplish.
Once you have your goals, you must prioritize them. It can help to divide your goals into the 4 Ds of time management: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Delete. Do the most important tasks. Defer the tasks that are important but not urgent. Delegate tasks that are urgent but not necessarily important. Delete tasks that are unimportant and not urgent.
After figuring out your tasks’ priority order, make a to-do list. Seeing your tasks physically written down keeps them at the forefront of your mind. Then you can cross them off as you accomplish them, which is good for your mental health. Just be sure to keep your list simple. If there’s too much, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by a half-finished task list.
Set a Time Limit
Setting a time limit means you have to define your tasks well to get them done within the time limit. Setting time limits helps improve your focus and encourages you to work more efficiently. If you don’t control and define your tasks, they can get on top of you and take longer than they should.
This might feel counterintuitive, but taking breaks is necessary for productivity. After each task you complete, take a break and let your brain reset. If you continually move from one task to the next, you are more likely to burn out quickly. It’s better to give yourself a rest.
Your brain cycles through rest and activity cycles. Every 90 minutes, your brain goes from higher to lower alertness levels. You’re likely using energy reserves when you keep working past 90 minutes. Even if you don’t finish your task in 90 minutes, you should at least be taking breaks that often. Let your brain rest and come back later, refreshed and ready to work hard.
Organization will look different for everyone. Find what works for you and stick with it. You can plan your week on Sunday and break down your weekly goals into smaller, daily tasks. Making your to-do list for the week will help you get your brain into ‘work mode’ and prepare for the week ahead.
It can also be helpful to automate your emails. Most email servers allow you to assign labels and filters to send incoming emails to specific folders automatically. You can also create email templates to make repetitive emails easier to send.
Get Rid of Non-essentials
Non-essentials is another way to say distractions. In either case, these are things that keep you from being productive. Checking your email every single time there’s a notification, getting sucked into conversations with coworkers, and getting hung up on small details in an attempt to achieve perfection are all examples of non-essentials. Each of these lowers your productivity and disrupts your flow.
Batch your emails and schedule specific times to answer a couple of times a day. Most emails don’t need to be answered immediately and can wait until your designated time for emails. If you know you’re prone to get sucked into conversations, try noise-blocking headphones or work elsewhere. In theory, striving for perfection is nice, but in reality, it can destroy your productivity. Strive for done, not perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good.
This goes back to making goals and lists. Ideally, you should plan out lists at least a day ahead, but it’s even better if you can do it at the beginning of the week and the beginning of the month. The more you’re able to plan ahead, the more likely you are to finish your tasks and achieve your goals. Use your calendar to time block your work and keep track of deadlines that you need to meet.
Visualize how your day or week will go. Take a moment to close your eyes and see your day or week playing out exactly right. When you have that vision in your mind, you’ll have a greater drive to manage your time efficiently. While you’re making your plans, try to allow for buffers. Schedule to be finished with a task at least a day early, if possible. Then, you don’t have to scramble to meet deadlines if something comes up.
Poor Time Management
Poor time management can lead to some of your biggest problems at work. Successful time management can solve a lot of problems. If you struggle with it, you can experience poor workflow, wasted time, and loss of productivity and control over your day. All of these lead to lower job performance and satisfaction.
Beyond the lower job satisfaction, poor time management can also lead to decreased happiness in your life outside of work. When you’re missing deadlines at work, you might have to do more work on your own time and have less time to pursue your personal interests and goals.
Your workflow suffers when you don’t use your time efficiently. When this happens, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed by your workload and miss deadlines. If you’re always frantically looking for the time you need to finish tasks, you add a lot of unnecessary stress to your job and your life.
Workflow is one of the most significant indicators of your productivity in the workplace. If your workflow doesn’t look good, you don’t look good as a professional. Poor workflow can also make you appear unprofessional and unproductive to your supervisors. They might start trusting you less or overlook you for possible promotions.
Time is a perishable and nonrenewable resource, and when you waste it, you can never get it back. You must respect time and implement good time management habits to make the most of such a crucial aspect of life. When you don’t know how to manage your time well, you’re likely to just waste a lot of time instead of using it wisely to achieve your goals.
When you get everything done at work in a reasonable amount of time, you have the freedom to use what’s left for your personal goals. Otherwise, you’ll be left to wonder where the time went and why you don’t have enough bandwidth to do the things you need and want to do. It can also lead to misery and dissatisfaction in your life.
Loss of Control
Eventually, a lack of effective time management can launch you into a state of panic and pandemonium. You can experience burnout and work imbalance. This loss of control can take a toll on your mental and sometimes physical health. You want to be conscious of where your time is going and how to use that time to best benefit you.
If you’re not in control of your own schedule, who is? Do you really want someone else to be in control of your time? Your answer is probably a resounding no. In that case, it’s probably time to implement some of the time management tips discussed above.
Time management allows people to do more work well in less time. While it’s true that everyone has 24 hours in the day, people who know and practice the techniques for managing those hours optimally can accomplish more than people who don’t. Time is too precious a resource to waste, so don’t spend it doing something that doesn’t add value to your life.
Did any of these tips resonate with you? What strategies do you use to manage your time correctly? Find the habits that work best for you, and run with them. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when managing your time effectively.