The key to success in developing your projects and tasks is to make good time management. However, it is not so easy to know how to organize yourself. If you are one of those people who feel that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all your tasks, this article is for you.
Do you often feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Do you feel that you cannot define your work and rest schedules? Do you do everything at the last minute? Don’t worry, because, in the following guide, you will learn how to optimize your time to the maximum.
- Before the meeting, analyze the importance of each member and the topic of work, and create a schedule of tasks that must be carried out.
- During the meeting, follow the task schedule without deviating from the main topics, encouraging the participation of all members, and do not extend the scheduled time.
- After the meeting, evaluate the results, send out a plan of action to follow, and request feedback from the participants.
What you should know about time management
Time management means getting the most out of your work time. This requires the use of resources, techniques, and tools that will help you increase your productivity. However, each person can have their own way of organizing their time and tasks.
Why is time management important?
Time management is important because it provides numerous benefits. Because of it, you will be able to limit your working hours for each task, which will maximize your concentration to complete your projects with better quality. In addition, it avoids stress, since you will not be burdened with responsibilities that you cannot fulfill.
Efficient time management guarantees more free time (and guilt-free enjoyment of it!), which will increase your work quality. This is because you will avoid burnout (i.e. Chronic stress of work).
|Signs of poor time management||Consequences of poor time management|
|Blurred boundaries between work and rest.||Working longer hours and being in a rush.|
|Wasting time on non-important tasks.||Stress and lack of motivation.|
|Working without taking into account the objectives.||Making mistakes and lowering performance.|
How to evaluate my time management?
Sometimes, it is difficult to define the effectiveness of our time management. To find out if your tasks can be optimized, we suggest you analyze one day of your usual work. Then, answer the following questions honestly:
- Have I had distractions? Calls, messages/emails, or simply losing attention due to environmental situations may have slowed your work.
- Did I try to do more than one task at a time? Multitasking can be detrimental to your productivity.
- How much time did I spend working smoothly until I started to get tired? Generally, we have a concentration threshold. It’s best to take a break when we start feeling tired.
- In what order did I perform the tasks, does it work better to start with the easiest or the most difficult task: You should analyze what works best for you. Some people prefer to do the most difficult tasks at the beginning to get them out of the way. And for others, it works better to gradually increase the difficulty of their tasks from the easiest to the most complex.
How can I improve my time management?
The first step to improving your time management is to be aware of it. This is why you should analyze the questions you have asked yourself above and answer them honestly. This way you can determine the most effective organizational structures for yourself.
With the first step done, you can start to manage your goals and prioritize your tasks. Here are some tips on how to organize your routine and projects effectively:
Set weekly priorities
Make a list of all your weekly tasks. Then, detect which are the most important ones, or the ones with the closest deadline. If those tasks require a considerable amount of hours, allocate time to work on them each day of the week.
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If you have a large number of low-priority tasks to accomplish or a distant deadline, you can set yourself a goal of accomplishing one or two of them that week. This way, you will keep your goals realistic, and avoid getting overwhelmed. Don’t forget that managing is also about deciding what not to do!
Block your schedule
Once you’ve created your to-do list, put your non-postponable tasks (meetings, classes, etc.) on a calendar. Then, you should write down the tasks that you have marked as a priority for that week. This should be done consciously and sincerely: do not try to pressure yourself to complete them in less time than planned.
Look at your calendar and ask yourself if you can add some hours of non-priority tasks, and write them down if you think you will be able to do them. Don’t forget to write down your break times and be realistic, no one can work so many hours non-stop and still retain their focus! Although it may not seem like it, breaks also help increase your productivity.
The task you have completed is called by experts “blocking time”. That is, assigning a fixed schedule to tasks that you could do at any time. You will probably not manage to follow your initial calendar, but this will help you to perfect the following ones and become more and more aware of your time.
Define your goals
You must set your goals and be always able to visualize them. This is because it has been proven that writing them down increases your chances of achieving and accomplishing them (1). For this, you can use sticky notes and stick them on your computer, create a virtual board, etc.. Whatever works best for you!
In addition, an academic study conducted by Leadership IQ Study found that in order to set goals that help you excel, they must have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Be useful: the goal will enrich your clients, your community, or your professional development.
- Motivating: you must be able to imagine how good you will feel when you achieve your goals.
- Compelling: the goal is absolutely necessary for the company or project.
- Challenging: the goal forces you to learn new skills and get out of your comfort zone to achieve it (2).
As we have already mentioned, knowing how to manage your time efficiently implies knowing what not to do. That’s why being productive also means having the ability to delegate tasks when possible or necessary.
Leveraging the skills of your team members and helping each other delegating tasks will help them be more productive. If you work alone, it is important to know when your work is being successful enough to allow you to add workers to your project and thus produce (and earn) more.
Take regular breaks and get enough sleep at night
If you feel like you work all day and your breaks don’t really help you relax, you should rethink your habits. You don’t have to work all day to achieve more. In fact, Forbes magazine says that taking regular breaks is essential if you want to maximize your productivity (3).
Even your quality of sleep at night affects your productivity, as it has been proven that lack of sleep impairs performance. It also increases workplace accidents, absenteeism, and misconduct. Getting enough rest brings numerous benefits such as better memory and enhanced acquisition of new skills(4).
Multitasking when you’re swamped with work and haven’t organized your tasks is almost inevitable. It can sometimes be considered a positive skill that should be encouraged. However, multiple studies confirm that this practice stagnates your productivity.
A study conducted by psychologists confirmed that switching from one task to another results in loss of productivity. This is because multitasking on a daily basis results in a loss of concentration, which will make you unable to maintain focus when needed (5).
How to choose the best time management technique?
If you want to improve your time management, but are still not quite sure what works best for you, we recommend trying different time management techniques. They were designed by experts and can be your salvation to increase your productivity.
Here is a list of the most popular time management techniques. We suggest you try them all and then decide which one suits you best. Remember that some may be more effective for certain types of projects.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique aims to optimize concentration to the maximum. It consists of dividing work into blocks of 20 or 25 minutes, interspersed with 5-minute breaks. After four blocks, you take a longer break of approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
The ABCD organization method
This technique is ideal for those who have difficulty organizing tasks by priority. It involves making a list of all the tasks and then classifying each one as A, B, C, D, or E. This way, you will only move on to the next letter of the alphabet when you have completed all the points written in the first letter.
- A: These are the most important tasks on your to-do list. These are things that you must do.
- B: These are tasks that must be completed because they will have minor consequences for your work.
- C: They have no consequences, that is, it would be nice to do them, but they are not necessary.
- D: Tasks that can be delegated to someone else.
- E: Items that are not important and have no consequences, so they can be suspended or deleted.
The 80/20 method
This technique is also called “Pareto’s principle,” since it was formulated by him in his book Cours d’économie politique. It states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. In this way, you can focus on resolving the most frequent errors in your work, as they are the ones that affect your results the most (6).
If you use this technique you might discover that, for example, that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. It could also be that 20% of your products generate 80% of your sales. The key is to detect these percentages and leverage your resources. Starting to apply this technique will give you the following results:
- Increase of work efficiency: you will set aside less profitable actions, increasing the time of efficient work.
- Reduction of stress: managing tasks more easily will affect your well-being.
- Better decision-making: by having data on what is really important, you will make decisions that lead to improvements or reduce errors.
- Optimization of resources: most of the resources will be allocated to the activities that bring you the most benefits.
What are the best time management tools?
You may have already found ways to increase your efficiency at work, but your resources are limiting you. Keeping a manual diary or timing working hours manually to improve time management can have negative effects.
That is why we have created the following selection of tools that will help increase your productivity. This way, you can automate the time management techniques that are right for you on your computer or cell phone.
This tool will help you keep detailed track of the time you spend on different projects. It also makes monthly reports in which you will be able to see graphs of your work times. The application is available on desktop and mobile, and you can even add it as an extension to your browser.
This tool will help you manage your tasks in a single place. Its interface is minimalistic and simple, making it very easy to use. In addition, it sends reminders to your cell phone so that you don’t forget to do any of your tasks and it is ideal for teamwork.
If you can’t avoid getting distracted when you perform your tasks, this tool is ideal for you. Self Control will help you by blocking web pages, social networks, and all kinds of distractions that you indicate during the time you are working.
If you don’t have an Apple device, don’t worry, because Rescue Time is the ideal alternative. This tool will block applications and websites that can distract you during your work. In addition, it monitors the time you spend on different applications.
Explore other Best Time Clock Software
Finding a time management strategy that best suits you requires effort, patience, and a long process of self-discovery. However, the results make this work truly worthwhile.
If you manage your time better, you will have a better quality of life, avoiding stress and burnout. In addition, you will be able to define, plan and achieve all your goals. Try to implement these tips in your next tasks, and you will see how good time management is the key to success in all kinds of projects.
- Murphy M. Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them. 2018.
- Leadership IQ. Leadership IQ Study: Are SMART Goals Dumb? 2010.
- Kohll A. New Study Shows Correlation Between Employee Engagement And The Long-Lost Lunch Break. 2018.
- Rosekind MR, Gregory KBBS, Mallis MM, Brandt SLMA, Seal B, Lerner D. The Cost of Poor Sleep: Workplace Productivity Loss and Associated Costs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2010;52(1):91-8.
- Evans J. Executive control of cognitive processes in task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology – Perception and Human Performance. 2001;27(4):763-97.
- Pareto V. Cours d’économie politique. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz; 1964.