17 Tips To Manage Your Time Better
Updated September 30, 2022
Your daily productivity depends on the way you manage your time. Managing your time efficiently will likely allow for more balance in your life and give you a greater sense of accomplishment. Good time management can allow you to complete more in less time, lower your stress levels and help you succeed in your career. In this article, we discuss what time management is, how to manage your time better and the benefits of efficient time management.
What is time management?
Time management is the way you organize and plan your time to accomplish more in less time. Better time management will likely allow you to have more free time to work on other important tasks or allow you to decompress from your busy work schedule. Learning how to effectively manage your time can help you feel more relaxed, focused and in control. Other benefits include:
Improved professional reputation
Enhanced ability to focus for longer periods
Increased decision-making abilities
More free time
A higher level of self-discipline
More opportunities for professional growth and advancement
Ways to demonstrate work ethic:
Put away things that might distract from your work, such as your cell phone.
Ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you identify areas for improvement and set SMART goals.
Spend your time wisely on tasks that align with goals and prioritize tasks by impact.
Organize your notes, email inbox, and workspaces for increased focus, motivation and time management.
Take breaks throughout the day and practice a healthy work/life balance to avoid burnout.
Identify aspects of your work that motivate you such as tasks, goals or colleagues.
Practice time management to complete quality, on-time work and be more present in meetings.
How to manage your time better
When you take steps to manage your time better, you will likely experience a higher level of productivity and less stress in your work life. Here are 10 ways to help you manage your time better:
1. Evaluate current time usage
Before you practice better time management, you’ll need to evaluate how you currently manage your time. For example, you may think it only takes you 45 minutes to draft and send emails each day but it may actually take you 90 minutes.
One of the easiest ways to track time is with an app that tracks everything you do for seven days. You may also set a timer for your tasks, write down the times and add up the time on a sheet of paper at the end of your week. Once you begin tracking your time, you will gain a more accurate sense of what tasks take up the majority of your time and then make appropriate adjustments.
2. Identify your goals
Identifying your work goals, both large and small, can give you a clear understanding of where you should focus your time each day. For example, if your goal is to complete a project by the end of the week, write the overall goal and the smaller goals that will lead to the completion of the project on time.
3. List tasks
Creating to-do lists helps you map out exactly what needs to be done and by when. This will help you to see what you should prioritize each week and what can wait. Check your list and make sure you’ve organized it based on a task’s importance rather than its urgency. Important responsibilities are those that help you achieve your goals while urgent tasks are typically associated with helping achieve someone else’s goals.
4. Use time management tools
Try using a planner, calendar or time management software to plan your day. You’ll find that the time you spend creating a clear task path is less than the amount you might spend randomly jumping from task to task when you lack a detailed plan. There may be other tasks that come up that aren’t on your to-do list, but try to reschedule the tasks you can’t complete as planned instead of abandoning them.
5. Set time limits
Try setting yourself a time limit for each task during the day. For instance, if you have to write a budget report for your job, you may decide that you can complete it in three hours and then move on to something else. This challenges you to reduce procrastination so you can adhere to your allotted time schedule for each task. Try to realistically evaluate how much work goes into each task to help you maintain a certain level of accuracy and keep your stress under control.
You might consider a method like the Pomodoro technique to help you check off your to-do list in 25-minute allotments, taking short breaks between each stint and a longer break after completing four.
6. Compile related tasks
Different tasks require different methods of approach. When you write out your task list, try grouping similar tasks together, so you do not have to reorient yourself each time you take on a new task.
For example, if you have to create two videos, write one blog post and redesign two websites, you may want to complete the tasks consecutively according to similarity instead of completing them randomly.
7. Plan your day
Try planning your day in advance. Planning will help you know where to focus your time, especially during those times when it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
You might end your day by spending 15 minutes after work organizing your office and listing the most important things you may need to do the next day. Or, you may choose to plan your day early in the morning before you begin working. Try writing down the most important items and then complete them at the time of day when you are most productive.
Related: Q&A: How Can I Stay Organized?
8. Take care of difficult tasks first
While it may be easy to leave difficult tasks for last, it may be more beneficial if you complete the most difficult tasks first. When you choose to complete these tasks first, you generally have a clear mind and more energy because you haven’t been inundated by other tasks that might drain your energy.
Your thought process will likely help guide you through the difficult task in a timely manner, resulting in better time management.
9. Make meetings productive
Meetings are often necessary but they can cut into your work time. If you are leading a meeting, have a plan to cover the necessary information without wasting your time or that of your coworkers. Have an outline for what you want to cover during the meeting and the desired outcome. Keep the meeting as brief and productive as possible and end with action items.
10. Get organized
Try to declutter your workspace and place things back where they belong when you are finished using them. If you often open documents and files on a computer, try setting up a system that allows you to find necessary documents quicker. You may also try organizing your email by unsubscribing from unnecessary content so you can get to important emails more quickly.
11. Include a buffer in your schedule
Create a block of buffer time in between each completed task. This allows you to have extra time to finish tasks without taking time from another responsibility. Having this time cushion may also allow you to decompress and take a break, walk, get a snack or do some other short unrelated work duty. When you allow buffer time, you won’t feel as though you must rush through tasks.
12. Give yourself breaks
Dedicating time in your day to brief disconnections from your work will allow you to decompress and come back to your active tasks with a new perspective. Learning when to take dedicated breaks throughout your day will also help you develop effective stress management habits.
13. Let go of perfectionism
You like want your work to be efficient and accurate, but try letting go of perfectionism. You probably won’t have enough time to complete several tasks in a day if you spend your time doing and then re-doing a task several times to make sure it’s perfect. Instead, do the best you can with what you have and move on.
14. Learn to say no
Only you truly know what you have time for, so if you need to decline a request to focus on more important tasks, learn to say “no.” Remember the 80/20 rule—80% of your output comes from 20% of your inputs. Focus your efforts accordingly.
If you can’t say “no,” delegate. Pass on tasks to others who may be able to complete them in less time. While delegating can be a hard skill to learn, it can greatly benefit your time management.
Related: How To Delegate Work To Employees
15. Eliminate distractions
A key to good time management is getting rid of distractions. Checking social media, browsing the web, sending text messages and responding to instant messages can quickly use up your time. Try shutting your door to limit interruptions, turning off message notifications and making personal calls at lunch or during your break. Close all browser tabs on your computer except the ones you are working on.
16. Commit to your plan
The best way to commit to your plan is to allow room for mistakes but continue trying. Better time management takes practice. If you try and fail, keep trying because it will get easier and you will be able to streamline your work in a way that is best for you and your schedule.
17. Reward yourself
Promising yourself a reward when you've finished challenging tasks can help motivate you to complete them. Tell yourself something like, "When I'm finished with this report, I'll buy ice cream and watch my favorite movie." This gives you something to look forward to and pushes you to complete it.
Read more: How To Manage a Busy Schedule in 13 Steps
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