Time management is the coordination of tasks and activities to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. We could all use more time management skills, whether it be in our personal or professional lives.
When we’re at work, it’s easy for time to get away from us. Whether it be responding to emails, attending back to back meetings, or getting thrown last-minute projects, there are many distractions that take us away from that project we’re so desperately trying to work on. After all, we have deadlines to meet. It often seems like our time is managing us, not the other way around.
If you want to learn how to manage time at work, here are six time management ideas that could be of use:
1. Determine how you’re spending your time
It’s going to be quite difficult to manage your time if you don’t even know how you’re spending it. So, let’s start at the beginning. How are you currently spending your time at work? To find out, use staff scheduling software to record your daily activities.
It’s best if you write everything in slots. For example, “Monday 10:15 – 10:45 am: responded to emails”. This will help you figure out what is sucking up all your time, what you can feasibly accomplish in a workday, and help you focus on activities that provide the greatest returns.
Once you review your schedule, you’ll easily see what unproductive activities you’re engaging in throughout the day (like chatting with that co-worker who just has to share every detail of their weekend). Now that you know where your time is going, you will have a better idea of how to manage time at work.
2. Create a daily time schedule
Do you ever use a to-do list to manage all of the things you need to do? A daily schedule is one of the best ways on how to manage time at work. It will help you manage your time because it will give you an overview of everything you need to accomplish in the day, along with the timeslots they need to be completed in.
One way to do this is to create your schedule for the next day before you leave work. That way, you’re jotting down what needs to get done tomorrow while it’s fresh in your mind. By doing this, you won’t be wasting any time the next morning trying to figure out where you left off.
3. Prioritize your work based on time
Now that you have all of your tasks laid out, it’s time to prioritize them in order to manage your time at work. Which deadline is the closest? Those should top your list. Next, identify which project will take the most time and energy. Tackle that one next. When you get large projects out of the way, your stress levels should decrease and make the rest of your workday much easier.
4. Don’t multitask at work
It’s tempting to multitask and do more than one thing at a time. For example, you may be working on a project and see an email pop-up. You then click on the email and start writing a response or looking into what is being asked of you. Once you’re done, you return to your project only to realize that you’ve lost your groove and don’t know where you left off.
Sound familiar? We’ve all fallen into this trap. If you’re going to effectively manage your time, avoid multitasking. Focus on the task at hand so you can get it accomplished on time. Falling victim to distractions will only set you back and throw your whole schedule off. Try and stick to your schedule as closely as possible.
5. Reject urgent projects if you have no time
We all want to be that employee who helps everyone out and never says no to a request. But that’s just not feasible. If you need to say no, say no. During the first step of this exercise, you identified areas that are time wasters or that meet someone else’s goals and not yours. Cut these tasks out.
If you’re in the middle of working on an important project and a co-worker asks you to do something and you know it will take up a lot of your time, or pull you away from working on your project, say no. In reality, it may not always be possible to say no.
For those tasks, simply delegate the task to someone else. This may sound foreign to you, but we promise it will make you that much more productive and help you manage time at work much more effectively.
6. Stay focused at work
After all the effort you’ve put in identifying where you’re spending your time, creating a daily schedule, prioritizing your work and so on, don’t let distractions throw you off. This could be checking your phone for texts, opening up a social media app, reading the news, having a long conversation with a co-worker, the list goes on. Stay focused and before you know it, you’ll be a pro at managing your time!