You’re already successful. But what if you could be more successful? What if you could build a few (fairly simple) time management techniques into your day to simplify how you work, get things done quicker, and improve the quality of your work?
That’s what time management is all about: making the most of your (very valuable) time to achieve more, with less effort. But when you’re incredibly busy, or a natural procrastinator, it doesn’t always come easy.
Happily, there are a number of techniques you can draw on to help improve your time management skills:
- Prioritise your time. As the old adage goes: “if you make everything a priority, nothing is”. Before embarking on any project – large or small – you need to take an objective look at your ‘to-do’ list, Ask the question what’s the value in getting it done and what’s the risk if I don’t, then rank your tasks in descending order from the most important to the least.
- Give each task a window. It’s human nature to spend as long on a task as the time you have. To put it simply, if you have an hour to complete a task, it’ll take you an hour – even if you could have done it in half that time. Rigid (but realistic) time constraints make you more productive, because your brain is focused on wrapping everything up to deadline.
- Plan at least a day in advance. If you struggle to sleep worrying about work, take a few minutes before bed to jot down your (ordered) priorities for the next day. Not only will it make you sleep better – it’ll also make you more productive when your working day begins. That’s because you’ve already eliminated procrastination by deciding what you’re working on, when, and in what order.
- Identify your most productive time of the day. Some of us are morning people. Some of us hate Mondays, others soar after breakfast and slump after lunch. Spend a week keeping track of when you feel most productive, and when your energy levels drop. When you have your pattern, you can use ‘peak energy’ times to tackle your toughest tasks, and leave the low-energy work for when you might be on the go-slow.
- Limit multitasking – focus on completing tasks one at a time which will help to make you work more efficiently, increase the speed of completing your tasks and increase productivity.
- Delegate! If you have people you can delegate or outsource work to, take full advantage. It’s not about shifting/avoiding responsibility; it’s about maximising your time and value. It can also be a good way to involve other people in your projects.
Time might feel like it’s against you, but with a little forward-planning, you can make your working day work for you. It just takes a bit of practice, and the commitment to make the most of now.