Time is limited. Nobody refutes that. It’s why successful people are better at doing more than others in the same 24 hours that’s allocated to everyone on earth.
So when you think about the possibility of clearing your to-do list with enough time for happy hour, think about time management.
Most times, you get sucked into your work because of the way you generally manage your work schedule.
Your personal life takes a hit not just because you’re a workaholic, but also because you’re not getting time management right.
In this article, we’ll talk about time management, its benefits, and helpful tips and skills essential for effectively managing your time.
What is Time Management?
Time management refers to the clever art of coordinating activities and tasks to maximize one’s productivity. It involves making the best use of one’s limited time.
Time management essentially means organizing how you do things to get important stuff done in less time.
It means working smart to meet obligations and deadlines without falling behind on your social and personal life.
Essential Time Management Skills
You need specific skills to excel at time management. These skills help you keep things in order and optimize how you use your time.
They are awareness, arrangement, and adaptation, according to researcher, Erich C. Dierdorff.
Through different studies, he found that arrangement is easier than awareness and adaptation. That’s because it was easier for participants to organize their time than to manage last-minute changes or unexpected developments.
Learning these principles will bring you closer to the reality of managing your time and help you know the right steps to take.
Awareness is all about accepting the reality that time is a limited resource. It’s about coming to terms with how much time you have to complete all the work in front of you.
That means you have to reevaluate and change your entire perception and attitude towards time.
You have to start assessing how you actually spend your time instead of how you believe you spend it.
It starts with outlining your schedule and documenting how much you get done during a specific period.
Using that data, you begin to grasp what time truly means to you. You should also be aware about other factors that affect your time, such as:
- How much you can delegate
- The amount of resources you have to complete a job
- And who you can ask for help
As we mentioned, arrangement is the easiest of the three. It involves organizing your time and how much you spend on each task.
When you arrange your day, you work with a calendar, to-do list application, or task management tool to keep things in order.
But beyond that, you have to use the facts you’ve gleaned from your awareness to arrange a more perfect work schedule.
You must learn how to prioritize and plan better to ensure every workday is productive.
Arrangement involves tailoring everything to your specific needs, from the minor tasks to your breaks. Then, make sure you keep a detailed record of everything so that you can evaluate the effectiveness of each schedule in the future.
Adaptation involves being flexible and prepared to always adjust to whatever situation, expected or unexpected, that may come up during the course of your work.
You have to be ready to make changes to ensure you stay on track.
But while you’re learning to be quick on your feet, you also have to plan ahead.
You should understand that you’ll have some bad days as there are variables that will always come around to shake things up.
So, it’s important to allocate extra time to these unforeseeable events.
You should also focus more on your long-term goals rather than spending too much time on ticking off specific details about each workday. That way, it’ll be easier to adapt to changing shifts, emergency meetings, breached deadlines, and forgotten appointments.
Reasons Why Time Management is Important
Now that we’ve talked about time management and the vital skills required to make it work, let’s show the benefits of good time management strategies.
Identifying and Eliminating Time Wasters
Every professional employee has their fair share of time wasters. These are activities that steal away valuable time that could be used for essential tasks.
Some time-wasting activities, such as responding to emails, are leading causes of interruptions. They mostly affect work because they are not scheduled properly.
With effective time management you can identify these time wasters and deal with them accordingly.
For example, you can allocate a specific time slot in your calendar for handling emails. You can also identify unnecessary meetings and other group activities that waste your time.
What’s more, when you use a tool such as a time tracker, you can find out which activities keep you out of work the most.
For example, some time tracking applications can show you how long you spend on specific websites and programs. This way, you can know how much time you spend on average on social media sites and video streaming platforms. You can then take the necessary measures to block these applications or stay away from those platforms.
Measure and Improve Productivity
Time management offers you the means to assess your productivity. You can measure your work performance over a specific period and use the data to optimize your output and efficiency.
There are different ways time management can help you boost work performance.
Finding Your Productive Hours
Everyone works at their peak at specific periods during the day. These periods are called golden or productive hours.
You may have noticed that you’re more energetic and motivated to work in the morning or evening. But sometimes, it’s difficult to point to specific hours.
Thankfully, you can find those hours when you track your productivity. You can compare how much work you do during different hours of the day.
Doing that will help you notice a particular time period during your workday when you do the most work.
Once you identify your golden hours, you can then start to preserve them for sensitive and complex tasks.
Evaluate Task Efficiency
There’s no doubt you handle some tasks better than others. Your skills are more suited to specific jobs and you can complete them in less time and with little to no errors.
You can identify these tasks using time management techniques and allocate them to appropriate timeslots.
You can also evaluate how efficient you are with other types of tasks. That way, you’re able to create the right time block and schedule for each activity and task.
Use Productivity Metrics to Optimize Your Work Patterns
Once you are able to understand how fast you are at specific tasks, you can then optimize your schedule to be more productive.
For example, if emails take you 15 minutes on average to handle, you know how much time to allocate to sending and responding to emails going forward.
Take the Right Amount of Breaks
Breaks are among the most important – and ignored – part of work schedules.
To put it simply: you’ll break down, lose focus, and suffer performance drops if you don’t take enough breaks.
You need time to cool off and regain sharpness at work intervals. You even need more breaks after going through complicated and tedious tasks and activities. It’s no wonder breaks are a crucial part of the best time management techniques.
When you manage your time properly, you can make room in your schedule for breaks. That’s why lesser breaks are a result of disorganized time management. Your schedule will be so fragmented and all over the place that you don’t have time to recharge.
With a structured workday, you can create the necessary time needed to recharge and recover for the rest of the day’s work.
Maintaining work focus over a long period remains one of the most difficult challenges for workers. There are numerous distractions at work, especially when you work from home.
A time management system fosters a lot of discipline because it attaches a deadline to each task and schedule. That way, you’re more likely to stay focused on work until you complete a task.
Many time management techniques are also designed to keep you glued to work until you complete a series of tasks. They incorporate breaks that allow you to deal with other activities that would have been distractions.
Take the Pomodoro technique for example. It keeps you focused on work for bursts of 25 minutes, allowing you to take 5-minute breaks. That way, you’re focusing on getting work done every 25 minutes without taking your eye off the ball.
With increased focus, you can improve your overall work performance. You’ll be making less mistakes and getting through tasks faster.
Get Rid of Procrastinations
Procrastinations are another bane on work performance and productivity. It can be a real challenge to completely get rid of procrastinations when you have to deal with many moving parts in project.
It’s even more challenging when you’re doing multiple things at once. For example, your co-workers may need urgent help at different intervals and emergencies may pop up from anywhere.
Any number of situations could lead to dropping work that you may have to put off for longer than is ideal or you expected.
So, do you ignore putting out fires and urgent help from colleagues so that you can avoid procrastinating? While the answer isn’t simple, time management techniques can help you fashion a workaround.
You can analyze your daily schedule to figure out when these work issues and emergencies normally come up. From there, it’s easy to allocate tasks to free periods when you don’t have to deal with these distractions.
Another way time management helps you avoid procrastination is that it keeps you tethered and committed to completing tasks.
Improve Work-life Balance
When you use effective time management techniques, you can get through the tasks you plan to complete in a workday. That way, you won’t have to carry work over to the house.
It means you can leave work at your desk and focus on your personal life after business hours.
Prevent Overwork and Burnout
Overwork and burnout are bad for productivity and your health.
A 2021 report by the World Health Organization stated that working long hours increases the risk of death from stroke and heart disease.
According to the report, 745,000 people died from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016. These deaths were mainly caused by working 55 hours or more per week.
These numbers show the health effects of working too long and too hard.
But overwork and burnout can also lead to reduced productivity levels. A Stanford University study published in 2014 found that work output falls sharply after 50 hours per week. The study found that putting in more hours after working 55 hours doesn’t make a difference in terms of productivity.
Time management can help you reduce the prospect of working more than you should. By doing the right thing at the right time and getting through important work, you’ll be saving up valuable time.
The effect of time management isn’t just beneficial for work. Effectively organizing how you spend time can help you create a balance that frees up room for personal activities. You just have to know the best way to hack it.
You have to know how to use time management tools. These include time tracking applications like Traqq, to-do list programs like Todoist, and project management tools like Trello.
Traqq, for example, can show you everything from Time-Wasters and detailed data on your work efficiency. You can then use these metrics to optimize your work schedule.