8 ways you can improve your time management
If you’re like many of us in the UK, in the past year your working habitat will have been at home.
You might be feeling time-rich without a daily commute. Or perhaps the distractions or the lack of structure might be affecting your productivity. Whatever the case, it is important that you use your time wisely.
In business, effective time management leads to efficiency savings. People with good time management skills are more productive, more motivated and of course more likely to meet deadlines.
But it isn’t always easy to get this right. Less than 60% of our working day is spent productively – with emails and impromptu meetings being the biggest time wasters. Here are some quick tips on improving your time management skills.
- Produce a time log for the week. This will show you how you currently spend your time and how much you spend on non-productive tasks.
- Compile a to-do list at the start of each day. This lists your priorities in one place and tracks your progress. Plus you’ll get a sense of achievement as you’ll see you’re getting things done. It’s especially useful when working from home as you’ll likely need to be more disciplined.
- Use the important/urgent matrix to prioritise tasks. This ensures that you only spend time on your top priorities – the tasks that are important and urgent. Anything else can wait!
- Focus on the important tasks when you’re most alert. Do you find your productivity is better in the morning or the afternoon? Use these times to get things done, for optimum concentration. Just remember to take micro-breaks (see below) to let your brain recover from mentally-demanding activities.
- Take micro-breaks between tasks. If you’re working at home, making a coffee and walking around for just a couple of minutes not only refreshes you, but it’s also beneficial to your posture. It ensures optimum concentration when you return to your desk.
- Look for signs of procrastination. There are many reasons why we procrastinate. Homeworkers beware: daytime TV, long lunches and social media can all lure you away. If you procrastinate, figure out why and take action before you’re swamped with work.
- Manage emails. Switch off email notifications and check emails at limited times each day. Set a short time burst (15-20 minutes) for responding to emails, unless it’s core to your job. Also use folders to organise your emails.
- Reduce your exposure. For tasks that require intense focus, don’t be afraid to turn off your emails or message notifications. If you’re working from home, headphones can also be useful for limiting interruptions – a visual reminder that you’re busy.
By making every minute of work time count, you’ll have even more time to spend on the other things you love.