10 Tips for Mastering Time Management at Work
54 percent of professionals think that 30% of their workday goes unproductive. And that’s only because they make poor decisions when it comes to allocating their time.
Time management is the key to success irrespective of your field. The more time you spend being productive, the more you grow financially, socially, and academically.
It’s your major asset, and we advocate proper utilization of this asset. On that note, we’ve compiled this guide listing ten tips for mastering time management at work.
But before we jump to that, you need to know the difference between time management and task management.
Time Management VS Task Management
Professionals ought to know the difference between task management and time management because these two terms are most commonly confused at workplaces. They are often incorrectly used in place of one another leading to inappropriate approaches toward solution-seeking.
By definition, time management refers to the practice of allocating your time to several different activities throughout the day. Its prime purpose is to make the most of your time.
For example, if you have eight different ongoing projects, you’ll be giving one hour to each project throughout the day. And in this way, you’ll be making little progress in each one of them.
Some benefits of time management are:
- Less stress
- Increased efficiency
- More learning
- Better work quality
- Timely acquisition of set goals
- Better utilization of resources
On the contrary, task management refers to the completion of a particular task. You may go through stages of planning, development, and creation. At times, this makes the situation less stressful as you proceed step by step and can focus better. But quite very often, it demands quite a lot of time.
Therefore, it is more advisable to focus on time management, especially if you’re in a leading position. Project managers, business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and all other roles responsible and accountable for more than one variable contributing to business growth should focus on time management.
Tip 1: Create Realistic Timelines
The planning fallacy may take hold of you, and you might commit to completing more than you can possibly deliver. You may take up more tasks than you can handle.
And if this becomes a habit, you’ll push yourself into an endless loop of overpromising, being unable to deliver, and becoming anxious over the uncompleted work, even when it’s all very manageable.
For that very reason, our first advice to professionals would be to set up a schedule for the day. Allocate each hour spent at your workplace to a certain task. If you work at home, set a timetable inclusive of the duration of each task.
Now, it’s a good idea to incorporate microscheduling and leave a margin of about 15-30 minutes in the expected duration you set up for a task. Why? Well, that’ll bring a more realistic approach to your schedule.
Life’s unpredictable, and you can get unexpectedly engaged or late. So, keep a good margin. If you finish early, that’s even better. You can rest or proceed to the next task.
Tip 2: Avoid Multitasking
When dealing with multiple tasks at hand, the anxiety of each task’s completion causes us to try completing all of them at once. It’s best to refrain from doing so.
That’s because it divides your focus too much to achieve anything at all. Your brain keeps re-orienting and re-familiarizing itself with the newer tasks, which damages retention and productivity rate.
Tip 3: Group Similar Tasks
Tasks can be similar if they require the same management tools, same technique, location, mechanism, etc. It’s a good idea to group tasks with common factors and conduct them in batches.
For example, if you have a task to create a spreadsheet and MS Word Document, you can batch them together and execute them one after another once you sit down for the batch. It organizes the to-do list and helps get through things quicker.
Tip 4: Prioritize Specifically
There are five tasks on your list. And all five of them are important. But you have only two hands and one brain. How do you prioritize?
Well, check for urgency. If something has a shorter deadline, complete that task first. If there are no tasks with short deadlines, opt for the most difficult tasks. If you don’t find anything difficult, complete the lengthiest tasks first.
Tip 5: Regularly Outsource
When it comes to work and bulk work, it’s a good idea to outsource some of your work and focus on key business-building areas. For example, if you own writing business and you have multiple clients with bulk orders, you can outsource some of your work to quality freelance writers.
Or you can hire someone for the job. In this way, you can focus more on building the business instead of focusing on the bulk. You can work strategically to expand your business.
Tip 6: Automate Manual Repetitive Processes
Manual repetitive processes at the workplace, such as recording attendance, unnecessary reports, data entry, verification, sending similar emails, etcetera mess time utilization. On average, an employee wastes 4 hours and 38 minutes completing manual repetitive tasks.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to incorporate automation. Use software that simplifies procedures. For example, you can use accounting apps instead of using excel. Similarly, you can make use of marketing automation, sales automation, etc.
Tip 7: Use Time Management Apps & Extensions
Another great way of managing time is to use time management apps. Some of the best time management apps include:
- Tick Tick
- Rescue Time
- Focus Keeper
These apps track time you spend on each activity, offer schedules and timetables, store memos, etc. Note that there’s a difference between time tracking tools and time management apps. The latter offers a mix of time management features, while time tracking tools practically track the time you spend, such as a stopwatch.
Additionally, you can use extensions to keep tabs on where you’re spending your time online. If you feel you’re easily distracted by social media sites or other sites, you can use extensions to block them too.
Tip 8: Eliminate Waiting Times
Waiting times kill the tempo of a productive day. And on that note, we recommend our readers to look out for these time killers. If you know you’ll be waiting for something in the day, make sure you prepare for it.
How can you do that?
- Consider where you will be waiting
- Consider how long you will be waiting
Based on the answers above, you can choose to:
- Learn a relevant digital skill
- Reply to emails
- Conduct research
But say if you’re stuck in a situation as uncomfortable as waiting in the cafeteria line or outside a crowded restaurant, we advise you to use this time to recollect yourself. Or you can listen to relevant podcasts, audiobooks, or news channels.
Similarly, if you’re an authority at your workplace, time management is an even greater responsibility for you. If you can see a waiting time coming up (such as waiting for all participants in a meeting room), you can work to cut it down.
Instead of waiting, you can begin the meeting as soon as one participant joins and record the session. So, those who join late can access early parts of the meeting via the recording.
Tip 9: Cut Down Commute Time
Commute time is a type of waiting time in work schedules. But the difference here is that it’s a compulsory part for most people. We view this as a need. And hence, fail to identify it as a waste of time. And that, in turn, messes up with our overall time management.
But now that you’re here, let us tell you morning commute drains you even before you start the day. Trips now and then negatively impact your productivity and deteriorate your health.
So, find out ways you can reduce commute time. If you can take a shorter route, go for it. If you can reduce two trips to one, do it. If you’re finding yourself running to the grocery store for K cups, make sure you buy a box for the month. Do whatever you can to cut it down!
Tip 10: Don’t be too harsh, there’s no such thing as perfect time management
Even if you plan your schedule minute by minute and follow it dot by dot, you might still get late in a task or two. And that’s because some tasks take longer than you expected them to be. Sometimes emergencies arise. And sometimes it rains. Life’s unpredictable, you know.
On that note, don’t stress yourself over making the most of each minute. If you’re successfully achieving 70 percent of your daily schedule, you’re good!
Before we sign off, we want you to know there are different ways and techniques of managing time. But time management itself is a skill.
The more you practice, the deeper its roots, and the better you get at it! Make it a habit, and it will slip into your workplace conduct and boost your productivity phenomenally.