Time management is a struggle for most people. With so many events and projects weighing on our personal and professional lives, it’s easy to feel pulled in both directions yet leave the situation unsure of how to make heads or tails of it all.
But, just because work and life can pull us in different directions, it doesn’t mean there aren’t tactics available to help us manage our time more effectively. Here are five healthy, easy-to-enforce tips that will offer noticeable improvements in your time-management strategy.
Why do you want to improve your time management skills? Do you want more time to collaborate and innovate with team members? Do you dream of deadlines being met ahead of schedule? Are you looking to have more time at night to play with your kids? Do you want to make it to at least one date night with your spouse early?
Unless you have a reason as to why you’re looking to improve your processes, you won’t be able to appreciate their value. Defining your goals and the reason why you’re wanting to clean up your time management processes will help you strictly adhere to the journey of building better processes. And although you can keep them private and close to the vest, leaning on a manager or co-worker for accountability wouldn’t hurt.
Making a schedule is an easy way to look at tasks in advance and prioritize them based on time and/or importance. Even if every project feels heavy and top-priority, taking a critical eye to your tasks will help you communicate more effectively with your team members and better understand your expectations and how the project fits into the bigger picture. Gaining this knowledge is invaluable to any company, and to think all it takes is building better time management processes by prioritizing your tasks.
Setting personal and professional boundaries gives you permission to press pause on the steady stream of information that fills your day. One example of a personal boundary being set is not checking work emails after 6 P.M., while a professional boundary would be not answering one-off questions during the hours you feel the most productive, creative, efficient, etc.
When you proactively enforce healthy and intentional work-life boundaries, you allow yourself the privilege of dedicating specific chunks of time in the day for productive work. Knowing your workday ends promptly at 6 P.M. will help you stave off less-important one-off tasks, in order to complete jobs with higher priority.
Account for good distractions
Good distractions are necessary to re-energize ourselves and our employees and allow us to release more effective and substantial work into our company’s ecosystem. Although some people might interpret their lunch break as an opportunity to complete more tasks and projects, by building in mental breaks in your workday you allow yourself to re-energize and refocus your mind. Instead of punishing yourself for getting distracted, take it as a cue that it’s time to take a 5-minute walk break to peel yourself away from your massive Excel spreadsheet files, and then see how much more productive your workday might be if you consistently plan for distractions like these.
Be honest about bad distractions
Distractions are everywhere, and they have a poor reputation for a reason. While having your phone close by can be an innocent way to ensure you don’t miss any important family-related text messages, it can also be the catalyst to you going down a social media-checking rabbit hole that ends up distracting you away from your work for minutes, or even hours, at a time.
If you find yourself prone to checking your phone, your fantasy football league, or watching your dog playing around on the doggy daycare webcams, you need to be honest with how you spend your time during the day. Building in timeline buffers can dramatically help you hit deadlines and will help you go toe-to-toe with the time management issue.
Time management has been, or currently is, a real struggle for most people. Instead of ignoring a minor glitch in our processes, let’s embrace what we can do better by adopting these five easy-to-use tips.
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