What is Time Management?
Time management strategies help you make the best use of your time by completing tasks with efficiency and ease.
People are constantly looking for new ways to multi-task, in hopes that they can buy more time. There are only so many things you can do at once, and multitasking does not work.
It’s the age-old saying: “so much to do, so little time.” While we can’t really buy more time, we can definitely make the most of the time we do have by using time management strategies!
Organize Your Work
To optimize your time, you need to get organized and prioritize your tasks. Doing this will prepare your brain to determine what skills you will need to tap into throughout the day, saving you from wasting time by wondering “… well, what now?” Different people have different ways of getting organized and prioritizing their tasks. This is because time management strategies are very dependent on a person’s leadership styles.
To-Do Lists as a Time Management Strategy
To-do lists are quite easy to create and can be created in any type of format tailored to your own needs and leadership style, from a physical agenda, an online calendar, an app, or even a bunch of sticky notes! Writing down the tasks you need to complete is crucial so that you don’t forget what to do. While a to-do list helps you remember everything you need to complete, it’s also important to prioritize your tasks. It’s also important to find ways to categorize them according to importance, so you know what to do first.
Eat a Frog for Breakfast
Some people make the mistake of completing tasks in the order that they’re due. However, it’s usually more effective to complete the hardest tasks at the start of your day. This is the “eat a frog for breakfast” strategy— if eating a frog is a daunting yet required task, you may as well get it over with in the morning! For example, if I have an article due, I’ll write that before answering non-urgent emails, because once the article is complete, my other tasks feel lighter and easier.
Make a Daily Schedule
Create a schedule for the day and plan it out by the hour! This is one of the time management strategies that will serve as a tangible reminder of how limited your time is, and prevents you from dragging out a task for too long. An effective way to plan out your day is by adding an extra five, ten, or fifteen minutes to each time block; this is called “buffer time.” If you overestimate how long a task takes to complete, it will give you a head start for the next task. Or at the least, you get some time to recharge before moving onto the next item on your schedule.
Distractions are inevitable, especially in today’s day and age with working from home and our growing relationship with technology. Our cellphones, Netflix, and social media are probably some of the biggest culprits when it comes to disrupting our time management strategies. But it is important to exercise self-control… especially when you have deadlines!
If you keep turning to your phone instead of your work, it can be as simple as throwing your phone across the room. Others may need to have some meals and snacks prepared the night before, to avoid procrastination-induced cooking. There is plenty you can do to help you stay away from your vices. However, just make sure you have something to look forward to at the end of your day as an incentive.
Lightening the Load
As much as we all want to do it all and demonstrate our skills all the time, it’s impossible! Sometimes, you’re going to have to say no, delegate, and take a break.
Saying ‘No’ to Clear Up Your Schedule
Some of the busiest people find themselves signing up for all sorts of new tasks and projects. But you’d think the opposite right? This isn’t a negative trait to have though. Rather, it is just another one of the countless ways people with good leadership skills demonstrate their enthusiasm. It shows that they want to take on projects that will support both their professional and personal growth and development.
It’s important to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. When thinking about time management strategies, the ability to say “no” will help you determine the tasks that dominate your schedule. Saying no to things that don’t benefit you or bring you joy ultimately clears up your schedule. This leaves you with more time to so that you can complete more important tasks, and to the best of your ability.
On the topic of biting off more than you can chew, delegation is a simple solution to lighten your load. If there are small tasks that another person on your team can complete, you need to try to delegate to other team members. If you take on too much, you will not have a sufficient amount of time to complete your other more important things to the best of your ability. Ultimately, this does not work in your favour. You would rather complete a few tasks very well, as opposed to doing a bunch of things at the B range. Just keep in mind that there are some tasks that you just can’t delegate. Mastering the art of delegation is key to optimizing your time.
Manage Your Time to Take Breaks
It may seem counterproductive to take breaks when you’re trying to optimize your time. But it’s actually really important to schedule in free time to recharge. If you find yourself using your free time to finish a task you couldn’t complete earlier, it means you need to set up a longer block of time for the task.
When you don’t use your break to actually recharge, you condition yourself into understanding that a break is yet another task. And then, you don’t end up looking forward to it. Breaks keep you motivated and get your other tasks done beforehand!
Overall, there are a variety of ways to organize your time. It all depends on what works for the individual. Additionally, it requires lots of discipline and self-control to stick to your schedule and avoid distractions. Familiarize yourself with a bunch of different time management strategies so you know which ones work best for you. Ultimately, this will help you buy more time to get things done with the most efficiency.