Good time management is a critical component of any successful venture. However, a number of factors can get in the way of utilising your time to the best advantage. Many of these factors are controllable, but they require a bit of awareness and analysis in order to minimise their effects.
How Do You Know If You’re Managing Time Well?
If you find that you are constantly stressed by the amount of work you have to do each day and never quite catch up to your schedule, you may be overlooking areas of your work habits that can be improved. Generally, time management problems can be divided into internal factors and external factors. A number of time management tools are available to help to manage these different areas, so that you can make the most of your day, for example an online time management test can indicate areas where you need improvement.
You should begin each day organising your work by priorities, with the most important tasks to be completed first in line. The time taken at the beginning of each day to get organised can be a significant help in setting the stage for a productive day.
Procrastination is a common problem that can undermine good time management. When you find yourself delaying tasks, it’s time to take a hard look at why you’re avoiding taking on the work. You may fear the assignment is too difficult, and you don’t know how to begin. The task may have extensive detail work that you consider boring. You have done similar tasks so often that you no longer find the work challenging. See what is at the heart of your procrastination and try to talk yourself through the problem. This measure can often be enough to motivate you to a better work pace.
If help is available for certain tasks, make use of it by delegating portions of the project to others. Learning when to delegate and, to whom, can help you to get more tasks accomplished in less time. Make your instructions clear, and check in periodically to ensure successful results.
Although it may feel as if you are getting tasks done more efficiently by multi-tasking, studies show that switching from one task to another actually costs more in time. Stick to one task at a time, and see it to completion, for best efficiency.
Managing External Forces
External forces are everything that interrupts or distracts you throughout the day. These items may include emails, phone calls, instant messages, texts and the general chit-chat that occurs socially in offices everywhere in the world. Time management experts recommend you be ruthless in controlling these external factors, by turning off messaging, limiting email to certain times of the day and informing certain people who are distracting you that you’re too busy to converse.
Caring for You
Many individuals choose to skip meals, scrimp on sleeping or pass up on exercise time, in order to keep working on projects. However, these actions create a situation of diminishing returns. If you don’t eat a healthy meal, you are less able to think clearly, catch errors and produce at optimum levels. Foregoing that 30-minute exercise can cost you in higher stress levels, impaired decision-making and physical discomfort that undermine your work goals. If you take the time to fuel your body, prime your energy and relieve your stress, you will find you can take greater advantage of the time at your disposal.
Improving your time management skills requires taking a hard look at your own habits and the external circumstances that prevent you from working at peak efficiency. Once you have analyzed these factors, you can implement practical remedies to help you get more done, in less time.