When is the last time you stared down the barrel of a looming deadline for a project that you know would, in all probability, not complete on time? If it was recently, we don’t have to remind you how stressful this situation is and how it impacts your workflow.
A simple solution to this is to use proper time management that increases your productivity and makes sure that you make deadlines on time. Now, this may sound simple, but if it was so simple, why is everyone still struggling to implement it?
In this post, we’ll look at what time management is, why it is important, and some best practices that you can use to improve your time management skills right away.
The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.
What is Time Management?
So, what is time management exactly? The formal definition could be that time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, whether it’s work, social life, or hobbies.
In simple terms, time management is just the way you plan, organize, and how long you spend on specific activities. Irrespective of whether you look at the formal or less formal definition, time management is crucial to increase your effectiveness, your efficiency, and your productivity.
Why is time management important?
Just by looking at the definition of time management, you’ve probably already guessed that it’s an important skill to make you more productive and efficient. So, to elaborate on this, let’s look at some of the benefits of proper time management.
- Improving your performance. When you manage your time properly and block out periods of time during your day for all your important tasks, you’ll have a better idea of everything that you need to get done and an estimation of how long each task should take. Also, when you have a set schedule, you’ll find that you spend less time on planning what to do and more time actually doing it.
- Producing better work. When you’re not under stress or constant pressure to get things done or meet deadlines, you put more thought and effort into your work which, ultimately, means that you produce better quality work.
- Delivering work on time. Because you assign each task to a specific block of time in your schedule, you’ll be able to plan better and finish work on time, meeting deadlines along the way.
- Reducing stress. Because you’re prioritizing your work and you plan what to do, when to do it, and how long it will take, you’ll know how much time you have available. This means you put yourself under less pressure and stress to complete the work that needs to be done.
- Improving career opportunities. It comes as no surprise that, with proper time management, you’ll be a more reliable employee who always submits high quality work on time. This makes you valuable to any company and opens new career opportunities.
- Boosting your confidence. When you successfully manage your time and you constantly make your deadlines, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence in your abilities. This can drive you to further improve your time management skills and become more productive and efficient.
- Becoming more efficient. Because you’ll learn to plan better, you’ll be able to use your available time better. This means that you’ll become more efficient.
How to prioritize tasks
In order to prioritize tasks, you’ll have to plan everything you need to do for a specific time period. For example, you might plan your day the evening before. In this situation, you’ll list all the things that you need to do the following day. Then to prioritize, you sort them according to the level of importance and urgency.
This means that the most important and urgent tasks will be on top of the list and those that haven’t become urgent yet or are less important will be lower on your list. By doing this, you’ll optimally plan your day to complete everything that needs to be done in time.
Time management best practices
When you want to improve your time management skills, there are some best practices that you’ll want to apply. By using these best practices, you’ll be able to use your available time as efficiently as possible.
These best practices are:
- Being intentional about managing your time. This may sound simple, but for proper time management, you’ll have to make a list of everything you need to do and keep to that list. This gives you a way to visualize everything you need to do, make a plan, and keep you on track to finish.
- Being specific about priorities. The second key to better time management is by properly prioritizing everything that you need to do. As we mentioned above, this allows you to rank your tasks in order of importance and urgency and focuses you on completing what’s most important first. This is the perfect way to keep yourself away from tasks that are not urgent but just a waste of time.
- Eliminating distractions by focusing. Just as you’ll have to manage your time. You’ll have to manage your distractions too. This is especially important when you consider that it takes about 23 minutes to really focus yourself after an interruption. Here, it may be helpful to switch off notifications from emails or messages or to put your phone away so that you don’t check the Internet or your social media. These are well-known time wasters.
- Structure your schedule. It gets complicated to juggle work, family life, and hobbies. So, it’s vital that you structure your schedule to not only provide for working time, but also family and time for hobbies. This means you’ll be able to know exactly what time you have available to accomplish the tasks you need to at work and know exactly when you’ll spend time with your family or on your hobbies. Be sure to let these blocks of scheduled time not interfere with each other.
- Create awareness by tracking your time. It’s simple: you can’t know how you’re spending your time if you don’t track it. So, track your time spent at work, with your family, and on hobbies to see how much time you spend on each. This provides you with insight and self-awareness to make effective changes and improve your time management skills. This will make you more efficient and productive overall.
Hopefully, this short guide was helpful in showing you how improving your time management skills can be the key to unlock your productivity. Remember, though, it takes time to perfect, and proper time management skills won’t come immediately. You could, for example, consider using any one of the available time management apps to help you improve.
By following the time management tips as set out above, you’ll be able to hone your time management skills and increase your productivity and efficiency rapidly.