If you’ve ever thought to yourself “there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done”, you are not alone. With only so many hours in a day, and a long list of things to accomplish, you need to be adept at making the most out of the time you have available. After all, time is finite, it can’t be saved or reclaimed – once it’s gone, it’s gone. While the concept of managing your time might seem simple, it takes discipline and practice to master your day. One of the best-known influential thinkers on the matter of management theory, Peter Drucker once said, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else”. While time may be difficult to manage, especially with shifting priorities and commitments, it’s essential that we learn to allocate our time appropriately to maximize our productivity and success. A study conducted by Atlassian, a global software company, found that companies in the US lose $37 billion annually in salary costs and employees lose approximately 30 hours a month attending unnecessary meetings. Clearly, lost or poorly managed time has a negative impact on profitability. Time is your most valuable commodity. If you are not using it correctly, how much is it costing you or your business?
The benefits of effective time management are well worth the effort it takes to plan and organize your time between specific activities and competing priorities. Effective time management leads to better habits, greater focus and improved productivity. It limits distractions and helps curb procrastination typically caused by feeling overwhelmed. When you practice good time management you can achieve your goals faster and easier with less stress. You become more intentional about how to invest your time, which can ultimately lead to bigger (or more) opportunities.
While there are many hindrances to effectively managing your time, here is a list of 10 best practices that can help you master time management:
Effective time management starts with planning how you allocate your time. Get in the practice of preparing daily and weekly “to-do” lists. These lists are crucial in helping you accomplish tasks and meeting deadlines. Spend a few minutes each morning going over your to-do list for the day. Prioritize tasks by separating those important “must-do” tasks from the less urgent ones. Work through important tasks or deadline sensitive tasks before least important tasks. Also take advantage of your peak energy periods during the day (morning or afternoon) to capitalize on productivity. Be sure to set aside a reserve of time to handle the unexpected or those last-minute matters that inevitably arise.
By setting a time limit for completing a task you become more focused and efficient. It’s one of the best ways to train your productivity concentration is to set time limits on completing tasks. Knowing the value of your own time can also be a great motivator to use your time wisely.
Set goals that are achievable and measurable. Use the SMART method when setting your goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Rather than avoid those difficult or unpleasant tasks, tackle them first. Stop procrastinating and just get it done. Once it’s done, you can move on with your day knowing that it’s no longer looming overhead.
For a busy professional, interruptions are often unavoidable. However, to maximize your productivity, it’s important that you learn to guard your time. Close your office door, avoid taking phone calls or have them go directly to voicemail. If interruptions are inescapable, consider working from the home office for a few hours a week to get things done without distraction.
Use your calendar for long-term time management. Log deadlines for completing tasks, planning meetings and appointments. Keep your office tidy and clutter-free, it will save time when searching for various documents. Promptly file all documents and paperwork immediately instead of letting it pile up on your desk. Don’t hoard old documents, magazines, etc., use the trash can if this material is no longer relevant.
To effectively manage (and protect) your valuable time, learn to politely say “no”. Demands on your time erode your ability to focus and get things done. Whether formal or informal, from colleagues or managers, external stakeholders or family, these demands can lead to stress, which can undermine your well-being and affect your professional success.
You can’t do everything yourself. Delegate non-essential tasks or less important tasks to others to free up more time to spend on genuinely important things. This can significantly improve your time management. And, as you advance your career, you’ll find that delegating becomes an increasingly valuable tool.
‘Dead time’ is the time spent waiting for appointments, queuing in line, commuting, etc. It’s time that you usually have no choice but to invest and it’s often unproductive. However, you can take advantage of this time by helping a colleague, mastering a new skill, completing small tasks, replying to emails, updating a work portfolio, or checking social media. The more disciplined you become with your time, the more sensitive you will be to finding ways to maximize it.
Self-care is an undervalued yet important element of successful time management. In our hectic working world, where we always seem to be working and available, you need to carve out time for self-care. Taking time for yourself, even if it’s a short 10-minute break, is restorative and proven to reduce stress levels. Self-care time allows your body to rejuvenate and restore itself mentally, physically and emotionally, which allows you to be at your best.
Effective time management is the effective use of your time to plan your day (week/month) to make the most of the limited time you have available and accomplish tasks and goals or meet deadlines and commitments. While many people believe they don’t have enough time, the truth is they simply are not making good use of the time they have available. The importance you place on time management will depend on the value you place on your own time. Vexxit can help you maximize your time and get more of it back so that you can continue to do what you are great at.