Best Time Management Strategies to be More Effective at Work
No doubt, that time is the most valuable resource for everyone. You have only twenty-four hours a day no matter who you are. Time plays no favorites and everyone gets the same amount.
Every person decides how to spend time and this determines what he or she ends up doing with their lives. This is why it is critical to apply smart time management strategies and master time management skills.
Time management defines the difference between being busy and being productive. It clarifies what separates those who struggle from those who are living a richer life. It also helps to get ahead in your career, deliver projects successfully, and get a promotion or a pay rise.
The better you are at managing your time, the more you will achieve. This post is aimed to help you define the best strategies to take your time management to a completely new level.
What is Time Management?
In general, time management is how we use the time we have to achieve important goals or finish tasks more efficiently. This is the process of planning and controlling time spent on specific activities with the aim to boost effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.
For project managers, it is critical to be able to effectively plan and manage their work time, as well as the time of the teams they oversee. Proper planning and scheduling lead to better projects run, with a higher chance of finishing them on time and within a budget.
Why is time management important?
Time is the most precious resource we have. When we have limited time to do our most meaningful work, we naturally feel a certain level of anxiety. Luckily, time management is not about quelling the fear of wasting time but about understanding the benefits of using our time wisely.
Time management helps us to:
- Become efficient and productive at work and be able to build a better work-life balance.
- Feel more in control of our working day.
- Find more time for meaningful work.
- Stay focused for longer and see how much time we spend on skills that matter to us.
- Have more of an awareness of the time spent on unproductive work.
Time keeps moving no matter what and it is crucial to deal with it correctly. Here’re some great time management strategies that will help you to succeed.
14 Effective Time Management Strategies
1. Plan everything ahead
The truth is that when you know what you want to accomplish in a specified timeframe, you move directly to success. There is a clear correlation between planning and project success and the entire project success will most likely be linked to both project and cost-efficiency.
Quality planning can surely increase the chance that the project will be completed successfully will be cost-effective as well. There is no only true prescription about the length of the planning stage, however, it is worth considering that it could be about 40-45% of all processes performed by a project manager during a project.
Do not scare it as planning your daily tasks can be as simple as writing to-do lists consisting of must-haves and want-to-haves. Having a high-level plan will improve the visibility of requirements across different assignments and will help to establish goals and requirements for every project.
2. Stop multitasking and focus on one task
Start every day with a clear focus. The first everyday activity related to work should be defining what you want to achieve that day and what you must accomplish. Clarify this before you check your email and start to resolve issues.
There are many people who praise multitasking. Some think that it make more harm than good. We support the opinion that doing several tasks at once is ineffective.
People need time to switch from one task to another and trying to do too many things creates a lag time. Instead, focus on a single task at a time and complete it. Then you’ll have a chance to switch to another one. Give yourself a few minutes of rest between assignments. This transition will let your brain to take on a new task.
A popular Pomodoro Technique can be helpful here. The method splits the work into 25 minute long sessions, with rest breaks between them. This is a reliable way to boost productivity, and there is also a special device you can use designed specifically for this technique.
3. Break your tasks down
When you feel overwhelmed it is quite natural to procrastinate. Don’t beat yourself over it. Instead, whenever you’re facing a monumental task, break it down into smaller subtasks that are more manageable to achieve.
4. Prioritize effectively
Setting clear priorities is also an essential strategy. Sometimes your to-do list may seem overwhelming. In order to make it manageable, it’s better to divide the list into smaller chunks.
Thorough prioritization will help you to order tasks according to their importance, urgency, and effort needed to accomplish them.
One of the reliable ways to distinguish important and urgent tasks from your to-do list is applying the Eisenhower Matrix.
This productivity tool focuses on organizing your tasks into four categories:
- Important and urgent – the tasks you should do first.
- Important but not urgent – the tasks that may be scheduled for later
- Not important but urgent – the tasks that may be delegated
- Not important and not urgent – the tasks that can be skipped
You can create the matrix on-the-go with just a pen and paper to quickly prioritize your assignments. However, even the young and talented project managers without experience can apply more powerful and advanced prioritization techniques and frameworks such as MoSCoW method, ICE score model, RICE scoring, or many more.
5. Use a password manager
Remembering all your passwords by heart isn’t so easy. Using a password manager saves you time and energy since your login credentials are stored and automatically inserted when needed. It also helps you to use your working tools more efficiently and optimizes your breaks and pauses.
6. Stop procrastinating
There are people who tend to procrastinate and have difficulties staying focused. They can benefit from creating an external commitment for deadlines themselves.
One of the good ideas is to schedule a meeting in two days’ time where they will present their work and by which time their actions will have to be completed. One more brilliant idea is to complete the most unpleasant tasks early in the day.
7. Know your most productive time
You may be an early bird or a night owl. This personal characteristic can help your time management strategies as you may define when you’re most productive during the day.
A morning person will likely be able to accomplish more work in the earlier parts of the day. Night owls usually move a bit more slowly when they wake up. Therefore, they need some time to get into their typical work grind and they usually achieve a higher level of productivity in the afternoon. Whichever side you’re on, defined when you are most alert, awake, and motivated.
8. Pick a powerful planning tool
It is recommended to use a personal planning tool to improve your productivity and boost time management to the advanced level.
Personal planning tools include various calendars, planners, mobile reminder apps, wall charts, diaries, and notebooks. When you write down your tasks and schedules, you free your mind to focus on your priorities. The main idea is to find one planning tool that will work for you. Here’re some tips for applying a planning tool:
- Record your info on the tool itself.
- Review this tool every day.
- Set priorities in your planning tool and refer to them constantly.
- Keep the tools synchronized if you have several.
- Have a back-up system.
9. Master your delegation skill
There are no irreplaceable people. Your company probably has a person with appropriate skills and time to help you deliver some of the tasks you struggle with. It’d be great if you can find the tasks you can delegate, so you can focus on more urgent and important issues.
Apply resource allocation tool to spot available team members with skills needed for specific objectives. By delegating some of your work issues, you will demonstrate to your employees that you value their input.
10. Avoid interruptions
Sometimes you have to perform tasks that require deep focus and avoiding interruptions. For example, when creating a report or working on project documentation.
If you apply the Pomodoro Technique, you have to minimize all possible distractions to remain deeply focused on a task for 25 minutes. Such interruptions may come from your colleagues, emails, calls, or chat messages. It doubtlessly kills your productivity.
11. Accelerate deep work
Deep work is about cognitively demanding tasks. These types of tasks demand your 100% attention, as they’re so important and difficult. There is a good book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” written by Cal Newport that describes this perfectly.
Plan deep work for the same time every day. Identify your work habits and block out common distractions.
12. Set yourself (even minimal) deadlines
If you’ve ever felt that the more time you have for a given task, the bigger the chance that you’ll procrastinate instead of getting things done earlier, then you have to work with setting deadlines.
You can actually set yourself shorter deadlines. When you will still struggle to force yourself to finish a task faster, ask team members to review your work at a certain date (to provide them with your results).
13. Learn to say “No”
When it comes to the amount of work you’re able to finish in a given timeframe – it is crucial to know your limits. It will help you to avoid work-related stress and feeling burnt out. Saying “No” to your management can be intimidating. However, there are a couple of ways to do assertively:
- Explain what other important tasks you’re doing at the moment.
- Let them prioritize and decide whether the task they’re asking you to complete have a high priority or not.
- Ask if the task can be postponed.
- Be open about why you’re not able to do it and never lie.
14. Review your day
Daily work summaries will help you to recognize where you did well and what remains to be done. Spend 10 minutes at the end of each day reviewing your task list. You may do it before leaving the office.
In case your day’s efforts fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow to accomplish the task. Try to end the working day in high spirits determined to pick up the thread the next day.
Effective time management will help you to control your day. With this skill, you will be able to accelerate productivity and build good habits, set proper goals, avoid burnouts, and find a work-life balance.
The reliable time management strategies mentioned above can help you live a more fulfilled life. Success starts with the right mindset and these strategies are aimed to train yourself to focus on what matters most to live a more joyous, productive life.