It’s becoming clearer each day that the world we live in now is filled with so many more distractions, and it requires stronger time management skills. We know first-hand how easy it is to fall into habits that negatively impact your time management and your work. It goes beyond missing deadlines, but it can also add more stress, anxiety and cause a poor work/life balance having to compensate for the periods you haven’t performed at your best. Whether you’ve always struggled with time management, or in recent times you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, here are five daily habits you can implement to improve your time management.
1. Know your “why”, and the rest will follow
Without having a clear understanding of the “why” you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll very quickly find yourself going in circles, easily getting frustrated or completely blocked. If you find yourself nodding along, it means you haven’t set clear enough goals for yourself or your team. Being clear on the direct links your daily tasks have to your long term goal will ensure you’re productive.
Action: Before you start a new task, ask yourself this: “Is [task] going to help me get one step closer to [next goal]?” If you can easily answer “yes,” then you’re on the right track. If you find yourself taking longer than 5 seconds to rationalise this task, or you find yourself making unnecessary links, then you’re probably not making the most use out of your time.
2. More is less
In a lot of areas of our lives, doing the most is considered better, however in the workplace, that’s not necessarily true. You could start 20 tasks, but if they weren’t relevant, or completed that’s time wasted. Multitasking does more harm than good and is another big offender when it comes to poor time management. Like we mentioned in the above tip, first, make sure you know what you’re working towards, then stick to a smaller amount of work each day to ensure you’re actively working on reaching your goals, not just “fluffing” your way there.
Action: Have a To-Do list and a To-Do Today List. Each day move only three tasks into your To-Do list. The rule is, anything on your To-Do Today list must be done with no questions asked!
3. Set daily email/ office communication time blocks
We find the biggest gaps in people’s time management skills are related to how professionals handle emails and office communication. It’s the first to cause major distractions, and more times than not, it will lead someone to go off tangent, aka waste time. By incorporating blocks of “comms” time, it begins to move your mind away from the anxiety, or stress of your inbox, unread messages or missed calls and targets your focus towards the work that’s right in front of you. Similar to having food around the same time every day, you’ll start to recognise certain periods of the day are set aside for a particular task.
Action: Set up more than one “comms” block each day, as it would be impossible for you to ensure you’re looking after what is required in just a one hour period. An example of this may be allowing 1 hour block in the morning, 1 hour block after lunch, and 1 hour block closer to the end of the day.
4. Go hard, first
It’s 3pm, you’ve reached your coffee quota for the day, your deadline for a major project is due today, you’re stuck because you’ve left the hardest task until now and your boss has emailed requesting for an update. You’re the most productive first thing in the morning, and straight after lunch but you spent that time making phone calls. Sound familiar? It’s a stressful situation to be in for anyone, but it’s a direct relation to poor time management skills. Although it’s the easy way to work on the jobs that seem the quickest, easiest or most enjoyable first, it will often lead to stressful situations where you’re stuck, anxious or you haven’t got enough resources to complete something.
Action: Find your peak performance time, and block it out each day. Then save that time to focus on the most time consuming or challenging task on your daily to-do list.
5. Regularly schedule time for yourself
Whether it is for exercise, having lunch out, time to read or listen to your latest podcast, it’s important to give yourself time to mentally relax. If you’ve been burned out, stressed at work, or find yourself struggling to reach goals, then you’ll understand the importance of having guilt-free “me time.” By regularly setting time aside to do something for yourself, you’re also creating regular motivation for the day, adding more fuel to your productivity fire! You can’t expect to do your best work without enjoying the rewards. Too often, we see workplaces and business professionals forgetting the simple act of patting themselves on the back as a way of producing better, faster results.
Action: It can be daily or weekly, set at least 1 hour aside for a guilt-free mental break. Ensure you communicate this with your team early on, so they know not to disturb you, and you’re able to enjoy this time completely.
If you haven’t noticed already, you’ll find that a lot of these suggestions are the basis for setting up a regular routine, why? Because routines are a time management pro’s best friend. Routines assist in giving you a better sense of control on your day, directs your focus, and will rapidly improve your productivity.
If the thought of time management still overwhelms you, or you feel as though you need more than 5 daily habits to improve your team’s time management, we have an incredible course that covers the in’s and out’s of this important life skill. It’s been designed to help anyone who wants to achieve more in less time, and who also struggle with prioritising, procrastination and dealing with time wasters. Click here to check it out!