Who hasn’t dreamt of being able to magically stretch the day to, say, 30 hours? Imagine having more time to complete work-related tasks, for hobbies, for the family, for yourself! While you can’t really make the day longer, sometimes it’s enough to use a few tricks to get things done more effectively and gain some extra time. There are different time management techniques at your disposal, but what works for one person might not necessarily work for someone with a different personality. Luckily, there’s no harm in experimenting and checking things for yourself. Try some of the following ideas and with a little bit of practice you will be able to achieve the optimum performance or maybe even become a time management ninja.
Effective time management ideas
Check what you’re wasting your time on
Spend a week researching what you spend your time on. Start by recording all your activities during the week, regardless of what they were. Include everything: conversations, sending e-mails, actually working or just thinking about or planning future projects. Make sure your list contains non work-related activities, too. Note how much time you spend on a given activity. This will help you understand what’s taking up most of your time. That way it might be easier to realize, which of your endeavors are productive, and which are a waste of time.
Plan and set priorities
What should be the last action done on a given day? Planning the next day! Doing so, you will sleep well, and the right amount of sleep is the basis of high productivity. But the plan can actually be done at the beginning of the day. What’s really important is to have it before your eyes when you get down to work. When planning tasks, set priorities. 20% of activities are usually translated into 80% of results (the Pareto principle). Therefore, determine which tasks are the most important and start with them. Do you have problems with setting priorities? Divide important and urgent tasks using the so-called Eisenhower’s matrix:
Get to know yourself
Observe yourself to determine your window of productivity. Some people get things done more effectively early in the morning, others – during the evening hours. There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe, you just need to find out on your own. Once you realize at what time of the day you are more productive, use it to perform more challenging tasks. Using your peak of productivity for writing emails is definitely bad time management. Bear in mind, that constant e-mail checking distracts you and diverts you from the current task. Unfortunately, the same goes for the social media.
Don’t let others disturb you when you have to focus on a task. Nobody works in a vacuum, and it often happens that someone needs something from you. However, it’s worth determining whether it’s an emergency which requires your immediate reaction. Perhaps the problem can wait until we finish working on a current task?
Perhaps some will find it difficult to accept, but in today’s fast-paced world, multitasking is nothing good. When you perform many things at once, chances are you won’t achieve your potential. By focusing on quantity, you are often forced to sacrifice quality. Not to mention that the constant task-switching is simply exhausting. Multitasking is the enemy of productivity. Instead, focus on one task at a time and complete it. Being able to cross things off your to-do-list is really rewarding and makes you see the progress you’re making.
Sort things out
Working in a clutter reduces productivity and makes you lose precious time. And it’s not just about the distracting mess on your desk. The lack of order in documents – both offline and online – hinders the workflow. It may be the fastest to save a new file on the desktop, but it’s also worth taking into account the time you’ll spend searching for this particular file. Take some time to organize the folder system properly to know where to save which documents and then stick to those rules.
Naturally, not everyone can afford the comfort of employing other people. But take into account that your time is very valuable. Contrary to the common belief, sometimes it’s much cheaper to outsource a tasks than to pore over it yourself. Especially when it comes to tasks in which you don’t have experience, and someone else could do them better and faster.