While the business world is full of challenges and impediments to a productive workday, easily one of the worst challenges to overcome is poor time management. Whether the rapidly dwindling work hours are the consequence of poor planning on your part or someone else’s, struggling to use your time wisely presents a significant barrier to being productive.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make the most of the time you do have every day. Between developing new habits and prioritizing your tasks, you can improve your time management skills and work your way toward a more productive work environment as well as finding better ways to spend your free time. Here are a few good ways to get started.
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Evaluate Your Current Time Usage
Start by taking an audit of your typical workday to see how you’re spending your time. Record every task you do, when you start it, and how long you spent on it. Record breaks and any interruptions as well. Where does most of your time go? What tasks take the longest or require the most effort?
After a couple of days of keeping this record, you’ll have a good idea of the biggest time wasters in your workday as well as how long significant tasks take you to finish. Both will help you structure a better time management plan.
Pro Tip: If you get interrupted at work a lot, see what you can do to remove yourself from a distracting environment. Ask to move your desk, ask your coworkers to give you some space, or find another solution if possible.
Learn to Prioritize and Organize
As you know, not every task is of equal importance or urgency. Furthermore, people generally tend to accomplish easy tasks first and drag their feet on tackling larger, more difficult tasks. That’s where a structured prioritizing system comes in handy. One excellent way to start is by listing your tasks for the day (or week or month, depending on your work schedule) in an Eisenhower matrix. This chart will allow you to sort your checklist into four categories: urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, important but not urgent, and neither important nor urgent. This gives you a much clearer picture of what you need to prioritize.
Once you’ve prioritized your work tasks, draw up a schedule and stick to it faithfully. The additional structure to your workday will help you stay on track.
Find What Works for You
What helps you focus on the task at hand? For some people, it’s a clear desk or ambient music. Try a few different methods to see what enhances your focus and blocks out distractions. Once you’ve found it, keep using it to keep yourself productive and encourage good time management.
Additionally, remember that a productive day begins with taking care of yourself. Proper nutrition, sleep, self-care, and time away from work will help you return to your desk refreshed and ready to seize the day. Prioritize your own well-being and your work will fall into place.
Get the Most Out of Your Day
Whether at work or at home, most of us will feel instinctively guilty for “wasting time”. Fortunately, a healthy approach to effective time management in every area of our lives will help us recognize when we’re truly wasting time and need to get back on track. Create a time management system that works for you and watch your days become more productive!
Join the conversation for more tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your workday.