Have doubts about whether you need to learn effective time management skills? Just answer the following questions!
- Do you feel like you have too many important tasks to complete in a workday?
- Or, maybe, you feel full of energy to fulfil all your tasks in the morning, but, at the end of the day, you find yourself stressed out while important tasks still aren’t accomplished?
- Have you had to force yourself to work overtime, at home, or on weekends?
If you replied yes to any of these questions, you belong to that 70% of US employees working overtime, more than a half of whom name “self-imposed pressure” as a reason, the book Enterprise Development in SMEs and Entrepreneurial Firms: Dynamic Processes claims.
This happens in both big corporations and small enterprises. According to Dr. Donald Wetmore, founder of the Productivity Institute specializing in effective time management, we live in a world full of distractions, where the average person is interrupted every eight minutes, which totals 50-60 per day. In other words, since the average interruption takes about five minutes, this all totals more than four hours per day, that is 50% of an average 8-hour workday. Can you believe it? Almost half of our work time is SLIPPING AWAY! That’s a big chunk of time which can be spent on many much more important things.
Effective Time Management: What’s in It for Me?
Whether you’re an employee or employer, you work for a big firm or run a small business, if you’re struggling to take charge of the day and get important tasks done, then it’s time to start working on your time management skills. I know it sounds like every other motivational talk and personal development book you’ve heard of. But the trick of making this work is personalizing the tactics and strategies to your own preferences, lifestyle, and schedule.
Remember, the goal of effective time management skills is to turn your relationship with time into a happy one, which allows you to meet your professional obligations, enjoy the company of those you love, and take good care of your most valuable asset, your health. In this article, I’ll guide you through the best time management techniques, tips, tools, and even mobile apps that will help you make the best of your day.
Tips & Tricks: Supercharge Your Time Management Skills
1. Plan ahead
Planning your day ahead is the first and most crucial step towards effective time management. Because each hour you spend planning saves you 10 hours of doing. So, instead of jumping into your workday with no clear vision, devote some time to time management: think ahead of the activities you need to engage in. In compliance with your personal preferences, you can take 15 mins at the end of the day to set your to-do list the night before or you can be at your desk 15 mins early to set it and start your day fresh and ready.
2. Prioritize wisely
In Stephen Covey’s book, First Things First, the author builds an effective time management method called the 4Ds, based on Eisenhower’s Urgent-Important matrix. The method offers a great approach to prioritizing important tasks and customizing lists. Without further delay, the 4Ds are the following:
Do is simply about taking action right away. And this is what you use with tasks that fall into the first quadrant of the Eisenhower’s Urgent-Important matrix.
There is nothing more calming than crossing a task off the list. That’s what we do when the task in question is neither important nor urgent.
There is a fine line between deferring and procrastination indefinitely. The trick is rescheduling instead of just postponing. Setting a new date and time for all the important tasks that have great value but are not urgent to manage your work time effectively.
Delegation can be confusing to some people but it’s an essential part of any business. And it becomes a necessity when we find an urgent task with little to no value in progress.
3. Know your pattern
Your work pattern is how your mind prefers to work. Is it more productive to work in the early morning or in the evening? What kind of distractions is it most vulnerable to? What is the kind of boosters it responds to? Dig deep into your work habits to be conscious about your next steps to adjust them to an effective time management pattern.
1. Distractions are your biggest enemy – fight them!
Make sure that your workspace is as organized and quiet as possible to offer you the maximum space for productivity and focus.
When you’re caught up with an important task and someone comes by your workspace to see you stand to greet him or her and keep standing. It’s a non -verbal cue that you don’t have time to sit and chat.
2. Worry When It’s Time to Worry
Do not worry about task B when you’re working on task A. After scheduling task B just tell yourself that you’ll worry about B at that time and not before.
3. Multitasking Sabotages Effective Time Management
According to recent research on time management skills, divided focus reduces productivity drastically. We tend to be more productive if we work on the first task until it’s completed and then on a second task rather than switching back and forth between two tasks.
4. Session It Up
Break up your work time into sessions and remember to take a break after each session to refresh your mind and keep you focused and relaxed while working. And also, if any not-so-important activity tries to intrude, you can just push it to your next break. This way, your work sessions offer you actually effective time.
5. Document Like A Boss
Dedicating the time to document your work properly will save you many hours later, will help you always be “present” and ready, and will give an impression that you’re always at the top of your game. Tools for effective time management, documentation and communication, are literally everywhere and can save you tons of time spent on creating step-by-step instructions, manuals, knowledge base articles, video tutorials, screenshots, and so on.
1. Let’s Scratch That Off
Nothing will feel more satisfying than checking items off your to-do list. Don’t ever underestimate the motivational power of a sense of accomplishment keeping you going for more tasks and manage your work time effectively.
2. Clean Up
As boring as it might sound, cleaning up your workplace and organizing it simultaneously clears your mind and gives you a calming feeling of accomplishment.
3. Automate Your Work
Stop spending precious time on tasks that can be automated. Fortunately, today only an apple-knocker may lack the apps to stay in the zone. On the other hand, those who fail to manage their work time with the help of productivity tools do lose out a lot, chiefly time and opportunities for new achievements. That’s why I compiled for you this list of quick and easy time savers oriented at effective time management so that you can focus on more important tasks and utilize your time effectively.
Top 10 Quick & Easy Time Savers
Trello is a great option for teamwork and effective time management as well. The app can track, organize, and assign tasks. With Trello cards, you can dive into the details by adding comments, attachments, and direct messages to collaborate on projects from beginning to end.
If you spend hours screenshotting and copy-pasting the images and their descriptions followed by creating a document, video, or a webpage, StepShot Guides is exactly what you need. Its users say that the app saves about 80-90% of time spent on these routine activities, thus, they have more time for other tasks, they feel much less bored at work, and, as a result, their performance rates increase significantly.
Have a hard time coordinating work within the team? Can’t control, monitor and delegate everything at the same time? Then Asana is the application for you. You can structure your project and turn goals into workable plans. So everyone is aware of what needs to get done, who’s responsible for doing it, and when it’s due.
Planning, managing and analyzing tools for effective time management – an all-in-one app. Scoro comes with various features including time tracking, billing, work reporting, project & task management.
Yes, it’s exactly how it sounds. ToDoist will help you feel more in control of your life. Easily organize and prioritize your important tasks and projects and track your progress in a real-time mode.
7. Rescue Time
Rescue time lets you monitor how you manage your time by visualizing, customizing and reporting your progress and work patterns. Time tracking can give you an accurate picture of your day, help you understand your schedule, and teach you to focus on the work that really matters.
Unroll.me is a tool to remove your unnecessary or irrelevant junk subscriptions. It easily declutters your inbox and saves you big chunks of time while checking your email, thus, promoting effective management of your time.
Toggl is a productivity-boosting Google Chrome extension with a simple time tracker, flexible and powerful reports, and a global network of certified consultants ready to help you with anything.
Yesware templates let you save your email messaging for quick access right in Gmail or Outlook. You’ll find a variety of templates including custom fields, placeholders, and drop-downs to fill in whenever they’re inserted into an email. This way you can completely eliminate the time wasted on writing and browsing emails.
Effective time management is not about fancy quotes or generic self-development theories. It’s about personalizing these tactics and utilizing the tools and apps that fit your work pattern, whether you’re a business owner, an employee, or a college student. Your way up the ladder is not about going viral or hitting it big, but rather about making simple but consistent acts of smart work. The acts as simple as regular writing down a to-do list or cleaning up your workplace can bring a surprisingly positive dynamic to the efficiency of your work time and the quality of your life.
So, start right now and implement this into your daily routine. Even if it sounds too complicated at the beginning, remember that to win the battle with yourself, you have to take one step at a time and keep your eyes on the prize. Although there may not be a shortcut to developing effective time management skills, nowadays, smart team members will definitely beat hard-working colleagues.
Ready to start taking control of your work time? Look through the list of helpful apps and choose the most useful for you!