Mastering the art of time management results in many benefits: among them, less stress, friction, and wasted time, greater achievements, and increased opportunities.
We all wish there were more hours in the day at times but since we’re stuck with the 24 we’ve been given, it pays to make the very best use of them that we can. Here are ten tips to help you do exactly that.
Taking time out to plan ahead, whether on a daily basis or at the start of a week, helps you to better structure your time. As a result, you’ll know whether you are on track to meet your goals and have an immediate indicator of any actions you need to take to stop you from falling behind.
Conduct a Weekly Review
In the book, Getting Things Done, productivity consultant David Allen advocates that you conduct a weekly review of your past seven days. The purpose of this is to identify any loose ends, clear your email inboxes and give you the chance to schedule activities that will contribute toward your long term goals.
A diary, calendar or organiser can offer a significant boost to your efforts to make better use of your time. Whether you use a physical or online version, these tools offer an easy way for you to keep on top of things. If you’re particularly busy, you might also consider adding a task manager to your toolbox.
Focus on a Single Task
There are benefits associated with the ability to multitask but do it too much and you’ll likely find that you are doing a lot but accomplishing very little. Focusing on one task at a time, even if only for a short period of time, should lead to greater efficiency in your working day.
Say No Occasionally
A can-do attitude is one to be commended but you should not allow yourself to become so bogged down by additional requests that you fail to achieve what you set out to do in the first place. It’s important that you don’t become so much of a people pleaser that your workload becomes unmanageable.
Block Out Distractions
Social media, instant messaging, unsolicited calls; we are all distracted from time to time. Blocking out distractions such as these can help you to focus on the task at hand. Put your phone on do not disturb and close any unnecessary tabs on your computer. You can deal with messages later.
Understanding that you can’t do everything will help you to better manage your time. Applying the 80/20 principle will help you to prioritise important tasks as will scheduling only three priority tasks each day. Leave unimportant and routine tasks until the end of the day when your energy levels are lower.
Leave Space Between Tasks
Back to back scheduling of tasks and activities leaves little room for error, let alone lunch or a bathroom break. Leaving a five to 10-minute gap between tasks allows you a little room for manoeuvre. If it turns out that the time is not needed, you can get a headstart on the next day’s activities.
Learn to Delegate
We can all be guilty of wanting to do everything ourselves. Unfortunately, that can lead to burnout before too long. Delegating less important tasks at work or household tasks at home can free up more time for you to spend on important activities.
Get Enough Rest
Cutting out sleep time is okay for a day or two if you have a deadline looming but using this strategy over a longer period is shortsighted. Feeling tired during the day prevents you from achieving all that you should. For the same reason, be sure to schedule breaks and relaxation into your calendar.
Time management is just one of the topics covered in our ICA Master Programme.
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