Ever had a day where you think you’ll be super-productive at work? Only to find out that by the end of the day, you didn’t get much done. I asked myself, “If only I had more time to get all the tasks crossed off my to-do list.” Sometimes, implementing effective time management at work can be difficult. But it can make a difference if you end up prioritizing your tasks.
Effective Time Management At Work
Most individuals struggle with managing their time at work. Especially if you work in an occupation where the workload is heavy, it can be overwhelming. Similar to my last post, I’m going to expand on other ways you can manage your time. Even applying one new approach can save you as little as a half-hour. In this post, I’m going to discuss five ways how you can manage your time while on the job. These points include:
1.) Developing a routine the night before
2.) Evaluating how much time you spend on a task each day
3.) Avoiding distractions
4.) Taking breaks regularly
5.) Not saying “Yes” all the time- know when to say “No.”
Effective time management at work:
Prepare the night before
Preparing the night before is crucial, so you know what to expect the next day. Of course, making sure you get a good night’s sleep is essential. Also, making a note of some reminders is helpful because even some small stuff can be noteworthy. For example, if you have to call a client first thing when you get into the office, write a quick reminder, such as “Call Joe Smith first thing.”
You can write these reminders right before you head out for the day. But even writing them down on a sticky note on your nightstand will be helpful. Especially if it’s an urgent phone call, you need to make. Or, if it’s following up on a significant project with a colleague, can keep those, small things in mind.
Evaluate your time
Keeping track of how long it takes for you to complete a task can determine whether you’re getting more done. For instance, do you spend up to an hour on a job that takes only a half-hour? Or do you end up spending an entire day devoted to a task that may only take two-three hours?
It can be a challenge for some individuals to complete tasks when they don’t have precise methods to take action. If you’re part of this tribe, you may want to start putting time limits on some functions.
The Pomodoro Technique
One of the approaches includes the Pomodoro Technique, where people break down their tasks to 25-minute time blocks, followed by short breaks. You focus on one task for 25 minutes, take a short break, then do it again for 25 minutes, and then break again. After four 25 minute periods of work, you then take a more extended break (say 30 minutes) after doing the tasks earlier. This technique has been around for three decades, and it works when most people practice it regularly.
Another excellent approach to breaking down tasks is called timeboxing. This technique allows you to migrate your tasks into your calendar, rather than just writing out an unorganized to-do list. The advantage of this technique is it will enable you to schedule your tasks at specific times during the day. At the same time, it helps separate your more non-essential and essential tasks.
For example, if you allow yourself a half-hour to checking email, schedule that half-hour in your calendar. If you need to write an analytical report that’ll take a couple of hours, schedule those few hours into your calendar. If you think about it, timeboxing is a neat way to organize your tasks, along with having a better plan to take action on your assignments.
Distractions are inevitable in the workplace. Whether it’s your co-workers or electronics, they may not be going away anytime soon. But you can control and limit the time when those things come up. If you’re working at your desk with your cell phone out or multiple web browsers open, that may spell a disaster. If you use your phone more often, you need to set a limit and know when to put your phone away.
Unless you work at a job that requires you to have multiple web browsers open at the same time, try to close out any browsers you don’t need. Browsers such as your email or the internet (Google, Firefox) can be tempting to check (or multitasking), but it can end up spending twenty-thirty minutes away from actual work.
Taking Breaks Regularly
Taking breaks may sound odd as to manage your time effectively. But if you think about it, you’re not allowing your mind to refresh itself with no breaks in between. If you work non-stop for a couple of hours, you’re unintentionally wasting time. Your mind will wander off if it’s overworking itself, in addition to being creative and think critically.
Not everyone will do this, but for some who are work-alcoholics, this can take a toll on their health and productivity. If you take short breaks in between (keep the Pomodoro Technique in mind), you’ll feel more focused in a shorter amount of time. As long as you’re taking quick breaks (not longer ones), that’s fine as long as you get away for a few minutes and do something that will clear up your mind.
Do Not Always Say, “Yes”= Know When To Say “No.”
Many people struggle whether to say no to a work commitment. When you say yes to a new project, you think you want to prove yourself of going above and behind someone’s expectations. But if you’re in a situation where you don’t have time, you’re taking on additional tasks that’ll take up more time. Also, saying yes to other people when you’re not so sure is not quite the most honest approach.
If you answer yes but change your mind later, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you break a commitment. So if you’re not sure whether to say yes, then say no if taking on a new project will take up more of your time. There will be times when saying no is necessary, but you want to be transparent with how you’re appropriately managing time.
You can’t do everything all the time. It’s necessary to split up some work if it’s too much for one person to handle. So saying no is not always a bad thing. Make sure you’re prioritizing what needs to get done first, so that way you’re not losing out on more time.
Well, I hope these additional tips help you improve the way you go about your workday. Even doing something as small as writing a few reminders on a sticky note will make it less frustrating. As mentioned earlier in the article, I will write about the Pomodoro technique and timeboxing in upcoming posts, where I’ll explain how they work and how it may apply to your workplace practices.
If you have any tips to share or general feedback, please comment below. Also, please share this post with others.
Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.