Have you ever looked at the clock and thought,
“There isn’t enough time in my day!”
We’ve all been there.
Time management skills are something everyone should master.
It can be the difference between a highly successful employee and one who’s struggling to keep up. We all have the same amount of time in our day, so why is it that some use it better than others?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what time management can do for you, some tools to use, and a handful of tips to help you master time.
The most productive and successful people in the world are masters of time management. They know how to efficiently divide their time between tasks and activities throughout the day.
When it seems like certain people get much more done than you, the reality is that they’re better at time management.
Time management allows you to work smarter and get more done with less stress and pressure.
Many of us believe that being busy is the same as being productive. In reality, people who are always busy are often managing their time ineffectively.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of time management.
While time management can seem tricky, it’s worth the effort. Let’s take a look at five benefits of time management:
One huge benefit of mastering your time management is a better work-life balance. When you know how to manage your time better, you’ll be more productive during your working hours and find yourself taking less work home.
A poor work-life balance leads to burnout and fatigue. You could find yourself resenting work, and this translates to how you feel at home. Take control of your time and keep work at work.
Good time management can lower your stress levels. When you take control of your schedule, you’re more likely to hit your deadlines at work without the stress of last-minute rushing.
With less stress from work, you’ll have more time to spend with your family and friends.
You’ll also find yourself getting a more restful night’s sleep as you won’t have to worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.
We like to think that we’re as productive as ever at work. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. About 80% of our workday is spent on tasks with little to no value.
Why do we spend so much time on these tasks? It’s often due to poor time management, leading us to push things aside until the last minute.
When you figure out a way to manage your time at work, you’ll find yourself spending less time on mundane tasks and with more time to focus on bigger projects.
You may even be able to get ahead of schedule.
We procrastinate for many reasons.
One reason is we have so many tasks to do that it feels easier to leave them until we get that last-minute adrenaline rush. While this works for some, it often leads to poor quality work.
Effective time management allows you to set goals and deadlines. When you break down tasks into smaller chunks, they seem more manageable, and you’re more likely to do them. Prioritizing more important tasks will help you feel more in control.
There is no way around it — people who are good at time management are excellent planners.
The most productive people have their days planned out in some way. This looks different for everyone, but as long as you have some semblance of structure, you’re on the right track.
Being an effective planner is another quality of a good employee. Knowing what tasks to prioritize on any given day will help you manage your workload and lead to a better work-life balance.
One simple trick is to get your most important tasks done first thing in the morning. This frees up your afternoon to work on other projects and get ahead of deadlines.
You don’t have to figure out time management all on your own. There are many tools that can help you.
Let’s take a look at six tools you can try:
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management technique that helps you break free of procrastination. It keeps you focused for short 25-minute intervals, followed by a short break. After four sessions, you’re rewarded with a longer break.
This technique helps even the worst procrastinators get stuff done. And with Focus Keeper, it’s even easier. Thanks to its simple interface, this app is easy to use, and it takes the work out of manually tracking your intervals.
If you’re struggling to juggle all of your responsibilities, you may benefit from a to-do app. Remember The Milk is one of the highest-rated time management apps out there, letting you keep track of to-dos across all of your devices.
It’s also great for families, as you can share and collaborate on lists. It’s perfect for tracking your daily activities and managing things like your grocery list between family members.
For those who want a more heavy-duty productivity tool, Rescue Time may be for you. The app monitors your daily activities and sends you reports so you can see exactly what you’re spending your time on.
If you want to forcibly block distractions like social media and YouTube, you can do that too. It’s one of the more heavy-handed approaches to time management, but it keeps you accountable.
An important part of time management is organization. Evernote is a free tool that, at its most basic, is an advanced note-taking app.
But it does so much more than that.
You can use it to record your ideas and thoughts using your voice, notes, or even images. You can use it to save things from the web for later, manage your recordings, create to-do lists, and more.
Another app to help you improve your focus and minimize distractions, Forest is a creative time management tool.
When you need to focus on a task, start up the app and plant a virtual tree. As long as you stay on task, the tree will continue to grow. Using manageable time intervals, you’re able to stay on task, all while growing your own virtual forests.
Trello is a project management tool that uses boards to visualize your tasks.
On a more personal level, you can use it to manage your daily to-do list at home. Create cards for things you need to get done and move them over to the completed column when they’re done.
At work, use Trello to organize your projects. It’ll help you visualize what you need to get done on any given day. It’ll help you sharpen your soft skills and make you a better worker.
The whole point of time management is to be more productive, thus saving you time and allowing you to get more done.
Let’s look at eight tips you can use to better manage your time:
The first thing you want to do is perform a time audit.
People are notoriously bad at knowing where their time is going. You may think it’ll take you 15 minutes to do a task when in reality, you’re overestimating your speed and not taking into account other smaller jobs you’ll need to do along the way.
A job you planned to do in 15 minutes could turn into an hour’s worth of work.
Manually track your time for a week, or use an app like Rescue Time, to see where your time is going and adjust accordingly.
Start every day with a list of daily tasks you can reasonably accomplish. Then expand that list into a week’s worth of goals. Then expand to a month.
Goal setting is important because it helps you set reasonable expectations and keeps you feeling motivated as you check them off. Try breaking your tasks down into smaller chunks as a first step.
The human mind is a tricky thing. If you give yourself one job to do during the day, it’ll take you all day to get it done. But if you give yourself two things to do, they’ll both get done.
When people add 12 tasks to their to-do list, most will get at least seven done. Keep this in mind when creating your daily to-do list.
At the end of your day, create a list of tasks for the next day.
If you find yourself working longer hours trying to hit important deadlines, you’ll want to try this.
Get your most crucial tasks done early in the day. Most people feel more productive at the start of their day, so at the very least, you’ll be able to get the important work done.
This leaves the rest of your day for chipping away at long-term goals and completing less important tasks.
If you’re juggling many different priorities, setting time limits for each task can help keep you accountable (and make sure you aren’t spending too much time on any given thing).
For example, you could keep your morning for tackling immediate tasks, answer emails between 1–2 p.m., and use the rest of your day for long-term projects.
If you’re struggling to hold yourself accountable, try any of the apps we mentioned above. Regardless of your needs, you’ll likely benefit from at least one of them.
Focus Keeper is perfect if you can’t stop procrastinating, while Evernote will help you get and stay organized.
With a detailed calendar, you’ll be able to visualize your weeks and months. Knowing what events, appointments, and meetings you have coming up in advance will help you plan your tasks accordingly.
This will also help with your daily time management as you’ll find yourself better prepared and rushing less to make certain appointments.
We all think we’re an expert at multitasking, but the reality is that it’s a detriment to quality. In fact, it can reduce your productivity by up to 40%.
Pick a task to focus on and do just that. You’ll find yourself getting things done quicker than before and with a better focus on quality.
If you’re struggling with time management, using a combination of these time-tracking tools and tips will help get you on the right track.
Time management is a transferable skill that will help you in your professional and personal life. It makes you a better employee and an even better leader. And it’s a skill that’s valued in every profession.
People who’ve mastered time management are better workers. If this is you, you should include it on your resume. It’s a more valuable soft skill than you might think.
For more tips on how to become a better worker, visit Jobcase.