10 Ways to Manage Time Effectively

Do you manage your time well or are there never enough hours in the day? For many, Lockdown and the increased trend for working from home has been a been a boon for productivity, but if you struggle to keep on top of work wherever you are, these tips are for you.

The UK has had a productivity problem for a while now. The figure, which is measured by output per hour worked, has flatlined over the last decade and was even dropping quite sharply at the end of 2019, and we have yet to see the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic will have. Having effective Time management skills will increase your own productivity and your value to the business you work for. They are also very useful in your personal life. Following the tips below will be a great start to improving your managing of Time.

1. Have a way to Check the Time

It sounds obvious, but have a clock or watch placed visibly in front of you. Keep a check on what you are doing and don’t spend an hour on emails instead of completing important projects.

2. Set a Time Limit

Decide that you need to finish Task A by 10am, Task B by 3pm, and Task C by 5:30pm etc. Don’t allow tasks to drag on and take time from other activities. You can even ‘Time Box’ your activities, which means allocating a fixed time period to a planned activity, working on the activity for that period and stopping when the time is up.

3. Have a To-Do List

Everyone had tried this, but just having a list of things to do does not make you into a Time Management wizard. If you only spend five minutes writing your To-Do list, then it will probably be of no help at all. A To-Do list requires thought. Plan too many big tasks in your daily list and it is inevitable that you will not get them done. Creating a task list is not secondary thing to try to do as quickly as possible. Making a task list realistic will mean completing it will be less stressful for you.

Not Too Many Tasks for One Day – It is difficult to say how many tasks you should plan for, but the biggest mistake most people make is to have too many on their list. Obviously, it depends on the work you are doing, but 5-10 tasks should be enough for a day.

Balanced – The task list contains both important and less important tasks. We may be tempted to work only on the most important tasks, but we have to take care of the less important tasks as well.

Flexible – What happens when you have planned a task, but cannot do it for whatever reason? Have a plan B in place. Know what you are going to do if your To-Do list does not go to plan

4. Do the Most Important Tasks First

Get the most important tasks done in the morning. The large, most important and stressful tasks should be tackled as early as possible. You have the most energy in the morning, so that’s when you are better equipped to do the most difficult tasks. It will also give you a feeling of accomplishment and make the rest of the day that much better.

5. Plan Ahead

Time management will just not work unless you plan ahead. And plan ahead as far as possible. For the next year, or month, or week or at very least the next day. If you know what is required in advance, large tasks can be broken down over days or even weeks, making them much easier to achieve. Good planning will transform how you work.

6. Delegate

If you need to focus on bigger or more complicated tasks, then perhaps other tasks can be delegated to others. Or trust other people to complete more complex tasks by themselves, so that your own time is freed. If it makes sense you can even outsource the work to an outside agency.

7. Focus on One Task at a Time

Multitasking is something that computers do. For human beings, it is a myth. If you start a task, finish it. Don’t, for instance, abandon writing a report to start to check and reply to email. Momentum is lost, as well as concentration and your time management suffers. Close any applications and browser tabs that you don’t need and focus solely on what you’re doing.

8. Target to Be Early

Be clear on when you need to finish your tasks and mark deadlines in your calendar and organizer. If fact, target to be early. If you target to be on time, then you may actually end up being late. Target to be early and even if you take longer, you can still be on time.

9. Prioritise

It is impossible to do everything, so do learn to prioritise. Apply the 80/20 principle which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. That is, by ensuring that you get the top 20% most important tasks done, you should receive 80% of the benefits of completing all your work.

10. Don’t Try to be Perfect

Do your best work and don’t be careless, but don’t try to make everything perfect. Once you’ve finished a task and given it your best, then move on.

And some quick, bonus tips:

  • Use a Calendar and or Organiser
  • Block out Distractions 
  • Batch Similar Tasks Together
  • Eliminate Time Wasters like Social Media
  • Plan 10 to 15 minutes for transition between tasks

Effective time management, ultimately, is having the right attitude. Whatever you do, remember to take time to rest and relax. There is a lot more to Time Management, Delegation and other related areas. Infero has a range of courses to help you get better in all of these.

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