Before discussing the concept of time management and some effective time management strategies, let’s discuss a few things about time in general.
Time has quite a relative sense; the easiest example of this is the different time zones that exist around the globe. Before the advent of clocks, people arranged meetings in relation to other tasks that usually took place before or after the meeting in order to set a time frame.
So, when the ability to “measure” time came around, it became integral to our way of living to the extent that its maldistribution has now several consequences on us. Dedicating most of your time working can wreak havoc on your personal life, and vice versa.
When a person manages to distribute time effectively, they are more likely to achieve the much-needed work/life balance! It is a topic that concerns nearly everyone. So much so, that countless books have been written on how to achieve it.
What is time management and why is it important?
Time management is an admittedly hot topic among freelancers and entrepreneurs. Even though we cannot manipulate time, we seem to be running out of it most of the days! So, how is it possible to use our time effectively in order to still have plenty of it to enjoy the things that matter most?
This is where time management comes in. It’s when a person improves their performance in such a way that allows them to complete tasks on time, thus gaining free time to spend as they wish.
In a strictly professional context, time management is a strategy that facilitates completing tasks in a timely manner and keeping a steady, efficient workflow. This way, employees and freelancers better their work performance.
Moreover, it is crucial to those who bill by the hour for example. They need the most to have tight control over how much time is spent on each task to maximize profit.
“Time is money”, the old proverb goes and there’s certainly truth to this; managing time wisely will inevitably lead to more revenue.
In this article, we are going to give you some tips to improve your time management skills, along with the best tools and techniques for effective time management.
Top 10 effective time management strategies in the workplace
1. Organize your workspace
Your working space is your castle. In order to get the most out of the effective time management strategies and practices listed here, you need to prepare your office first. For instance, if your computer systems are insufficient and obsolete, replace them!
Moreover, having a good system in place for filing documents, managing meetings and repetitive tasks will save you valuable time otherwise spent micromanaging – efficiency’s worst enemy.
You may also use time management applications that will help you organize your schedule. Such as meetings, deadlines, special events, appointments, etc.
2. Categorize tasks
A busy schedule can become a multi-headed monster if what needs to be done is not prioritized well. The best way to manage your time more effectively and complete tasks on time is to create categories for your tasks and projects depending on their urgency, such as “High/Low priority” and “Deadline”.
This is extremely useful in cases you’re running out of time and need to complete tasks that simply cannot wait for you to deal with minor issues.
Categorizing tasks can also help you establish a healthy routine for yourself.
3. Plan the week with the most urgent first and daily to-do lists
You can start your week by drafting a to-do list of all the things that have to be done regularly. Of course, you also get informed about the ones that have priority but are less regular.
According to the prioritization you gave each task, you can plan your week ahead by setting goals and completing them within a stipulated time frame.
4. Start with the most time-consuming ones
One of the easiest and most effective time management strategies is to begin your day with the most time-consuming tasks.
We know it sounds counter-intuitive. If think about it though, you will get them out of your way sooner and then you’ll feel more relaxed.
This is clearly subjective, but most people actually feel and perform worse knowing that a tedious task is waiting for them. This is also a great way to avoid procrastinating so…
5. If No 4 is hard, start with something that takes 5-15 minutes to beat procrastination
We’ve talked about how procrastination can impede your productivity before. It’s a major issue, especially for freelancers. Having too many things on your plate makes you want to put them off sometimes.
The result of slacking off on things that really need to get done is the feeling of failure that leaves both you and your customers dissatisfied. If you want to discover how to manage your time at work better and complete tasks in a timely manner, we have another useful tip!
Break down your work into smaller, more manageable tasks that take less time to complete.
This will enable you to be more focused without feeling stressed out about the looming deadlines!
6. Track your time
It’s always useful to know how much time you spend on your projects and their respective tasks. This will help you bill your hours appropriately and estimate how much time similar activities take to complete.
This has two obvious advantages:
- You optimize your pricing policy and hourly rates
- You make promises to your clients that you know you can keep
If you think this just adds up to your workload, there are applications, like Elorus, that can time-track your activities. They can also keep time tracking for entire teams working on the same project.
To take it one step further, they later take care of invoicing. Thus, helping you to streamline your workflow and improve your billing process.
7. Automate your workflow
And while we’re discussing efficient workflows, automating recurring tasks is key to organization and one of the most effective time management strategies in the workplace. For example, email reminders and recurring invoicing or billing.
This is where cloud invoicing applications come to the rescue! Elorus can do away with all those time-consuming tasks with just a few clicks.
You just need to set up the recurring rules for emails and invoicing, and then let the app work its magic!
8. No distractions
One of the most fundamental time management tips is to make a deal with yourself and not to allow insignificant distractions to ruin your focus. Wasting time at work according to salary.com is a serious problem impacting productivity and plaguing teams.
A small distraction or unnecessary task might end up taking valuable time, so block them beforehand.
Create a time window, let’s say every hour when you are allowed to check your phone or email notifications and reply if necessary.
9. Take breaks every 90 minutes
It is impossible to be completely focused on something for 8 straight hours, let alone be equally productive.
In order to refresh your brain and boost your focus, make sure you take regular breaks! Move away from your office chair, and look out the window to rest your eyes away from the screen.
You can also take a walk to your office’s cafeteria or around your building’s block to clear your head.
10. Review your time management strategy
Spend 5 minutes each day reviewing your daily performance and whether you hit your goals. Your time tracking application can give you a clear image of your most productive hours within the day, as well as your improvement in managing your time in the long run.
Moreover, keeping track of your not-so-productive times will allow you to not only identify the reasons behind it but also optimize your time management strategy!
Make sure you implement effective time management strategies for the work described above. It might not be easy at first since they require some degree of discipline, but soon you will reap tangible benefits!