We have all wished at one time or another for more hours in a day. Time gets away from us and we end up feeling like we wasted the day. However, professionals in every industry have developed techniques to help them improve their time management skills and boost productivity in all areas of their lives.
These time management techniques can help teach you how to prioritize your time effectively and channel your energy into the tasks that matter most. Here’s how you can develop your time management skills for both your work and personal life.
The topics will help you understand more about time management and its role in small business management:
- Tips for Improving Team Time Management
- What Workforce Management Modernization Means for Your Small Business
- How to Forecast Employee Scheduling Needs
- 12 Incentives to Get Employees to Submit Timesheets
- Advantages and Disadvantages of ERP for Small Businesses
- Why Small Businesses Should Use an Employee Time Clock System
- What to Include in a Small Business Time Tracking Policy
How to Improve Time Management Skills
Many individuals turn to the discipline of time management to help them improve their skills through the use of various techniques and strategies. Time management strategies, like the Pomodoro technique, can help people effectively manage and use their time, boosting productivity in all aspects of their lives.
Try implementing these time management techniques listed below to help you improve your time management now and in the future.
Prioritize tasks effectively
When we have a lot on our plate sometimes our schedules overflow with all kinds of tasks and activities. With so much going on, we can lose track of the most important task at hand while we end up wasting time on other, unnecessary activities.
To use your time wisely and effectively, prioritizing your daily to-do list- whether work-related or personal- can make a world of difference. If you have a master list of necessary tasks, begin by going through the items and picking out the most important, or pressing matters, and then the second most, and so on.
Using this method, create another list and chunk your tasks from most essential to least essential, categorizing them as A, B, C as you go, or 1, 2, 3- whichever you like best. Once completed, all of your foremost tasks will be at the top in A or 1, while your less pertinent responsibilities will fall into B and C, or 2 and 3.
Sorting and listing your daily responsibilities and required activities by importance can help you prioritize your time to get the most pressing matters completed first. Sometimes you might find that the important things you thought were needed, can actually be pushed off indefinitely, or can be delegated to another.
Learning how to prioritize your workload can save you a world of headaches in the long run.
Know when your peak concentration levels are
What time of day do you concentrate the best? Depending on your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that dictates when we sleep and wake, it directly impacts your most mentally active and easily focused time of day. For some, productivity only happens in the early morning, right after their first coffee, fresh for the day. For others, the evening and night time might be when they feel the most awake and focused.
By determining your most productive hours in a day, you can schedule the most important activities and tasks at that time. Many morning-focused individuals make the mistake of using the first few hours of their workday reading emails and interacting with coworkers rather than using their peak hours to get those crucial tasks, or A’s or 1’s, completed.
Therefore, to get the most out of your peak concentration and productivity levels, and spend your time wisely, enact a routine that focuses your time on the most pressing matters at hand, using your prioritized task list to ensure those top items are looked after first.
Break down goals into smaller tasks
If one of your goals seems too daunting, you just haven’t broken it down enough into manageable chunks. Many individuals procrastinate because the task at hand looms over them, and feels too overwhelming or large to even know where to start. However, everything can be unpacked into smaller, less overwhelming segments.
Knowing how to prioritize your tasks can help in this, as you can continue to break down and order the steps needed to complete the necessary goal in the most efficient way possible. Therefore, the next time a task seems too large to tackle, consider what baby steps you can start with to get the ball rolling. Once the smallest task has been completed, you may find you can carry the momentum into another small task and so on.
Even the smallest step towards a large goal is noteworthy. Better to do something small than nothing at all. Even on those days where you feel like nothing can get done, choosing the tiniest task to complete means the day wasn’t wasted, and won’t end up feeling guilty for losing a day of work.
Ask yourself Lakein’s question
The well-known time management expert and author, Alan Lakein, encourages people to ask themselves one simple question to help them refocus their efforts in a day. When you aren’t sure what your next undertaking should be, ask yourself, ‘What’s the best use of my time right now?’
With this one simple question, your subconscious might tell you what is the most pressing, as it will be the first thing that comes to mind. Whatever else it does, it should allow individuals to take a step back from their current state of mind and reprioritize their tasks going forward for the rest of the day.
Make this one question your mantra and any time you feel distracted or sidetracked, it can bring you back to what matters the most, and re-centres your attention to what needs to get done now.
Take advantage of dead time
This time management strategy works by taking advantage of the unusable time between activities. This covers those time frames when you have to wait for something and can’t do anything else, also known as dead time.
Commute times can be a huge time sink for people, as this needed, twice-daily activity consumes valuable time every week. Use these chunks of time to your advantage by tailoring other activities around them- whether that’s reading a book on the train or listening to an audiobook while driving.
It’s not just commuting times that can be used effectively, but waiting for your kid’s dance class to finish, sitting in the waiting room for an appointment to start, even waiting for the kettle to boil- use these spans of time to tick something small off of your to-do list. It’s surprising how much productivity can happen when dead-time activities add up.
Create tomorrow’s plan the night before
Prioritizing your tasks and structuring your day can be done the night before- whether that’s before bed, or at the end of your workday right before you leave. Daily planning is a great way to prioritize your activities and use your time wisely.
However, many people do this planning in the morning, thus using up their most productive time of day for an activity that doesn’t further any tasks at hand. It doesn’t need high concentration levels to set goals and do this planning, however necessary is it. By completing this task at the end of the day, when we are ready to turn off for the night, and our energy levels are at their lowest, we can still use this time efficiently.
Keep a planner to record your output every day
A daily planner or weekly planner is a great way to organize your time and keep tabs on all of your ongoing activities. A daily planner, or agenda, is the perfect time management tool, as it allows you to plan out your time by the day, the week, and the month.
When we can easily see where our time and energy is going, we are better able to manage it effectively. A weekly planner also helps you look back on the previous months for reference should you need to.
Choose a planner that works for you- it can be on the phone, computer, or a physical copy- whatever medium feels the most comfortable to use. Try one of these time management tools, like the best planners and digital planners and if it doesn’t feel right, try another format to see if it works better for you.
Use Software to Improve Time Management
Finally, one of the most effective time management tips is to implement time tracking software in your daily and weekly habits. There are many issues that time tracking software can solve, in the workforce and at home. By logging your activity and keeping an eye on where your time and energy is being spent, you can improve how you manage your time overall.
Using tools and software, like QuickBooks Time, alongside these time management techniques can enhance your productivity even further. At work you can track projects by employees and tasks, and keep track of work staff hours to ensure your team is getting everything done as needed.
Sign up for the free trial today and boost your time management skills all at the same time!