11 ideas to improve your time management
One of the biggest challenges many of us face with working from home is just how easy it is to get distracted and lose focus. Whether it’s the buzz of social media notifications or the demands of family life, striking the right balance between work and our personal lives is a challenge that many of us will be familiar with.
Here are some time management practices to help you take control of your time and increase productivity.
1. Set goals
One of the first steps of successful time management is setting the right goals and knowing what you want to achieve. You need to be clear about this and do as much as you can to contribute to the achievement of that goal. Sit down, turn off the distractions and think about where you want to be. Then, write it down and set it somewhere so it can motivate you. This will drive you every day – your passions, dreams and goals.
2. Do something
Don’t wait for Monday or the Monday after that, don’t wait for anything to happen so you can get started. Just do something right away. You have set your goals? Great! Now sit down and make a first effort to achieve something. Maybe it’s just 1% of where you need to be but it’s one per cent further than where you were. Always aim to perform one task, one action, learn one thing every day that will help you arrive at your destination.
3. Don’t be lazy
We have all faced laziness at some point in our lives. However, it’s how you fight it that matters. Here are some simple tips to combat laziness:
- Get in a time management course
- Use the Pomodoro Technique – work for 25 minutes and then have a 5 minute break.
- Start planning your actions and breaking them into manageable pieces.
- Get others to keep you accountable — a friend or partner that will remind you of your plans if you don’t stick to them.
4. Eliminate distractions
Since it takes 23 minutes to focus on the task again, it can be pretty hard when you face interruptions every three minutes. So, say no to time wasters – turn off your phone, notifications on your computer, block social media pages (unless it’s a part of your job or current task), tell everyone not to bother you for a select amount of time and so on (implement time blocking strategies to your days). Work in a quiet place as well.
5. Don’t do several things at once
Multi-tasking can be useful but it’s still one of the enemies of productivity. A multi-tasking mind is a distracted mind. You can’t focus properly on multiple things at once. We can only dedicate so much of our minds to this. So, when you are multi-tasking, your brain has to quickly switch between tasks and it impacts your efficiency negatively.
6. Set deadlines for yourself
When you don’t set any deadlines, you’ll just keep putting it off. Of course, make those deadlines reasonable so you don’t get discouraged, but make sure that they are tight enough so you don’t procrastinate.
7. Avoid checking email
Checking your email all the time makes you seem productive and like you are doing something that matters but you are creating a huge distraction for yourself. Responding to dozens of emails a day isn’t really productive. Instead, open your emails twice a day, at scheduled times.
8. Clear your inbox
When you check your emails, just delete the ones that are not relevant. Respond to emails that are and clear all the ones that aren’t. “Clutter in your emails or in your life is an enemy to your productivity. Get your email box to zero. The lack of clutter is inspiring,” says Josephine Myers a project manager at Writemyx.
9. Focus on priorities
Having a to-do list is one of the best things you can do for yourself when it comes to organization and time management. Create a reasonable to-do list and list only the most important tasks in it. Focus on priority tasks – several things that you need to do in order to get closer to the goals you have set. Do the most important task first and then complete the rest.
10. Don’t mistake urgent for important
You need to realize that there is a huge difference between important and urgent. Let’s say that you want to start your own company but you are an employee at another company while you gather resources. Your employer needs a task done quickly, and you are writing down your business plan. The task you are doing for your boss is urgent but your business plan is important. Think about your priorities.
If you need help prioritizing your tasks, then the 4 quadrants of time management are perfect for you!
11. Write it down
Having an old-fashioned journal or planner where you can write things down is crucial. It doesn’t matter the type of planner you choose. It’ll help you memorize things better that way and you get a better grasp of what you need to do.
Katrina Hatchett works as a manager at Academic Brits. She has been involved in various business projects, where her main aim is to define project problems and propose solutions, as well as improving overall communication effectiveness. Also, she writes for PhDKingdom and Origin Writings, academic service.