"I must govern the clock, not be governed by it." -Golda Meir
According to one study, the average employee spends 51% of their daily work time on low-value or zero-value tasks.
No wonder many people struggle to meet deadlines and high productivity levels when using the "deal with whatever comes" technique.
In these hectic work schedules and the relentless pressure to deliver work on time, improving time management skills at work is quintessential.
And yes, it's not just about using time-tracking apps! There's so much more to how you smartly manage your time.
One doesn't become efficient in time management in a single day. Consistent implementation of certain tried and tested practices daily at work gives individuals and teams more significant control over time than the other way around.
This blog discusses some finer ways to ace time management skills, improve productivity, and be less stressed at work while achieving.
Let's get going!
9 Best Tips Ever to Ace Your Time Management Skills at Work
Make a priority list
Many people create a to-do list of tasks, but creating a priority list and checking off items as you complete them is a smarter way of doing things. A person can list 10 to-do tasks in a day only to stare at 2 unfinished tasks at the end of the day. The worst part is that those 2 unfinished tasks they could not complete were of high priority.
Spending valuable time on low-value tasks does not make sense when there's more important work to do. That's why one should create a list of tasks based on their priority and start working on the most critical ones first.
One can only be a smart time manager if one can identify which work is more critical and what things can be worked on later or even delegated later.
Say NO to multitasking
Multitasking doesn't make people more productive; only 2.5% can multitask effectively. Dividing attention between two or more tasks simultaneously increases the chances of more error-ridden and high-quality work. This, of course, is not great if you are working on improving your time management skills.
Multitasking is overrated, and humans are wired to be mono-taskers. What people tend to perceive as multitasking is nothing more than switching between tasks. While it might work when performing simple and routine tasks, trying to multitask when attempting complex tasks can negatively affect our professional and personal lives.
So, it's best to focus singularly on one task at a time to ensure it is done with minimal errors, as per set quality standards.
Workplace distractions are a great productivity and time killer. Whether people work remotely or from a physical office space, distractions of all sorts are bound to be there. Think of browsing non-work related websites, checking emails and social media notifications, domestic chores, chatty colleagues, phone calls, and what not.
However, it's essential to eliminate them to utilize your time better and be more productive. Some popular ways to avoid distractions include blocking non-work related websites, turning off your mobile data during work, setting up your workstation in a quiet corner of your house when working remotely, and asking friends, family members, or colleagues not to interrupt you with non-work-related matters.
Use time-tracking apps
Trying to improve your time management skills without using good time-tracking apps is like working out in the gym without improving your diet intake. No matter how efficient people are, it's not easy to manually log the time they spend on different tasks daily.
This is where using an all-inclusive business management software with an inbuilt time tracking software, like Elorus, can boost your work performance and enhance your time management capabilities. The app allows users to track hours, invoice their work, and view daily working hours and their weekly sum.
Users can also share timesheets with clients by giving them access to a dedicated client portal to help them monitor the project's progress.
Similarly, project management and team collaboration software with an inbuilt time tracking app, like ProofHub, lets you record time on any given task manually or by using automatic timers, set time estimates, set start and due dates, etc.
Achieve the great time management and productivity control your company needs.
A Staples study found that more than 85% of employees believed regular breaks at work would boost their productivity.
Working on a particular task continuously for an extended period of time could adversely affect the physical and mental health of individuals. It doesn't make one more productive or time efficient. On the other hand, taking regular short breaks from work helps one to de-stress, relax, and get much-needed rest before getting back to the task at hand again.
While taking short breaks at regular intervals can help you achieve more, it's important to schedule them at fixed intervals. For example - taking a short break after every hour throughout the day ensures a fine work-break balance.
Set reminders for all your tasks
One sure-shot way of improving time management skills is to avoid missing out on deadlines because many lose track of a couple of their to-do tasks. When people have various tasks and projects to manage at the same time, missing out on some things is a common scenario.
That said, one can set reminders for all their to-do tasks to stay updated on what to do and when. For example, if an individual is working on task A currently, they can set a reminder for task B beforehand, which will help them in finishing task A in time to start task B at the scheduled time.
Use the 20-minute rule
The 20-minute incremental block is considered one of the most effective ways to improve your time management skills because it allows people to be on top of their game when they know they are at their productive best.
How to implement it? Quite simple. Set an alarm clock for 20 minutes and give undivided attention to a particular task. Make sure to choose a high-priority task that deserves singular attention. For a period of 20 minutes, give that task the best shot.
When the alarm goes off, people choose whether they want to continue working on the task or put it down. If it's incomplete, they should take a short break of 5 minutes and get back to that task to complete it.
Many working pros, especially team managers, find it difficult to delegate tasks because of various reasons - mistrust of others, feeling guilty to assign tasks, wanting to feel important to their teams and so on. However, delegation is important to properly utilize one's time and increase productivity.
Now, delegation is not just about assigning work to subordinates to relieve one's workload. It is about delegating work on the basis of people's skills and abilities so that they feel motivated, valued, and put in their best efforts to deliver high-quality work. Delegating also gives you more time to work on more challenging things that call for your undivided attention.
Use your downtime
It is not recommended to use all your downtime for planning and prioritizing your work as it can lead to a potential burnout and overwhelming stress. You can use your downtime for doing your favorite activities that help you relax and rejuvenate. Warren buffet practices ukulele in his spare time and Simon Cowell watches cartoons!
That said, using your downtime is about balancing things instead of being lop-sided. You can use some of your downtime for work scheduling, which will help you in completing tasks on time to keep projects on track.
The aforementioned time management skills will likely result in a more satisfied and progressive work life as you become more productive and efficient without taking undue stress. It is recommended to implement these strategies regularly to get the most out of them.