We all get 24 hours a day. Tasks and responsibilities can pile up, and it depends on your time management techniques as to how you move through these tasks. Instead of pining for longer hours or sacrificing your personal time, try to work out some effective time management strategies. Here are 15 time management hacks that are proven to be effective;
1. Always Start your Day with a Plan
Planning is essential as it is your roadmap to a productive day. List all tasks to complete and meetings to attend. Set a specific time to start and end each engagement. Incorporate and strive to minimize travel time. Put together tasks or meetings in as few places as possible.
2. Eat your Frogs – First
Prioritise tasks. Determine each activity into three categories, your frogs, the urgent necessary, and the not urgent necessary. The frogs are the unpleasant yet important tasks that you need to do. The urgent necessary tasks are fun activities that needs to be done within the day, and the last group are for necessary tasks that can be postponed for tomorrow and still not have a consequence on the business. Do not include any activity that doesn’t fit the categories. Accomplish your frogs first, and the rest will be fun and easy. It will set your mind clear for the rest of the day.
3. Make Appointments Short and Sweet
Determine how long it will take for the presentation, discussion, or review and set meeting time accordingly. Allotting extra time will only be spent on prolonged pleasantries and other unnecessary bustle. Prepare and agenda, and pre-send it to all attendees. Additional questions and concerns can be addressed on a later meeting or through email.
4. Screen Distractions
Emails, calls, and instant messaging are all integrated to most people’s work schemes. Checking out emails and messages will take time and concentration off the task. Colleagues and other office workers can easily distract work momentum. Work in a closed office, or set guidelines regarding office noise and activities. Set up time intervals or schedule email and message text. Unless you are expecting something urgent, stick to your schedule.
5. Lump Together Similar Activities into one Task
Your time management strategies should include putting together similar tasks like answering emails, returning phone calls, auditing, or banking. It will save you time opening applications, taking out files and records, and optimize concentration. The trick will minimize errors from lack of focus due to jumping from one task to another.
6. Take Time to Prepare and Review Tasks
Spend few minutes to prepare for each activity. Determine what your goal and the results you are aiming for. Do the same after each task. Did you accomplish the task as planned? How did the actual outcome measure up against the set goal? What are your shortcomings and how can you improve on it? Adjust task time limits and goals as you see necessary.
7. Include Planning and Thinking into your Schedule
Can you easily get side-tracked with thoughts and planning while doing other things? Do you spend more than your share of sleepless nights going through detailed business plans and visioning? Thinking and planning are important aspects of business, set aside time for it. Remember, sitting still is not the same as doing nothing.
8. Set a Goal and Stay Motivated
Motivation is the force that drives people to do things, work hard, and strive harder. A goal, a dream, or an actualization is usually at the end of all processes. Set a big goal, and many smaller goals along the way and keep yourself motivated in reaching each one of them. Rewards, sense of accomplishment, and better life are always great motivators.
9.Take a Break
Know when you need to take a break, and don’t hesitate to take it when needed. Breaks are not unproductive time spent napping, on a vacation, chatting, a coffee, reading, hiking, or whatever it is that takes the stress out of your system. It is a human restart function necessary for you to unclutter and be more productive.
10. Carry a Notebook
Carrying around a small notepad is one of the most effective time management strategies that seemed antiquated but is still relevant and effective. Constantly jotting down notes, thoughts, and ideas will capture important details that would have easily slip your mind. Why not do it in your mobile device? Because jotting down a note will take less than a minute, while getting your mobile phone out, scanning messages, checking out social media accounts, and maybe making several calls will take from few minutes to over an hour.
11. Learn the Art of Delegation
Put a premium on your time. Do not do tasks that do not like doing and those that you are not trained to do. Delegate specialized tasks to professionals. They are more adept, productive, and will do a much better job a lot faster than you will. Focus on what you do best.
12. Disconnect when Concentration is Needed
Need to work on a task that needs concentration and needs to be done fast? Put up a ‘Don’t Disturb’ sign, turn off emails, cell phones, and create a concentration cocoon. Assign a deputy to hold the fort and give instructions when you can be disturbed.
13. Schedule Time for Interruptions
Do not lose control of your schedule or lag behind due to interruptions. You are living in a real world, not a cocoon where everything is under your control. An important client calls in, your internet is busted, a co-worker might need your help, or the business could run into an unforeseen hurdle that needs to be handled right away. Account for uncontrollable events that you cannot avoid.
14. Remove Time Wasters
Do you have a Netflix or game apps or similar account on your computer? Are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking platforms always open and running? Do you all your correspondence go to only one email account? Unless you’re business or main tasks are on the social media, turn it off and stop wasting precious production hours on non-work related activities. Only keep your business email open, and have a separate account for personal matters.
15. Put Premium on Downtime
Life is not all about work, business, and the office. Value the time when you can be away from anything that is related to business or work. Spend time with your family, friends, or alone – doing things that you love doing. Work-life balance is necessary to give meaning to all the hard work you have to go through.
Time flies when you’re doing something you love, and slows down to a crawl when you’re in the middle of something tedious and hate doing. Your work attitude is also hugely affected by your motivation. To make most of your time, be productive, and to create a set of time management strategies that will work for you, know what motivates you and focus on things that you love doing. Eliminate or delegate everything else.