Good time management skills are critical for people at every level of the organization.
Whether you’re an executive or a recent college graduate, mastering this important skill set will enhance your performance. If you’re in a leadership position, you can also help your employees become more effective by developing their skills in this area. Time management involves more than simply making to-do lists and completing tasks as quickly as possible. In fact, quick turnaround often comes with a price in the way of reduced accuracy. Those errors then require time to correct and it ultimately winds up being counter-productive.
Here are some helpful strategies for identifying time management shortcomings and improving them to achieve better overall results.
Strive to become more aware of how you are spending your time.
Many people go about their workday and may feel pressed for time, but they give little thought to how they’re actually spending their hours. By assessing your days in detailed increments and analyzing how effectively you are using your time, you can make small changes that will deliver big results. For instance:
- Identify your peak performance times.
Break your typical workday into four time slots, such as morning, late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon and observe your output over the course of a week to rank them from your most to least productive. Once you’ve determined your peak times, use them to work on more challenging and high-priority tasks, reserving less intense and lower-priority tasks for less productive slots. Of course, emergencies and crises can crop up, but this technique can be tremendously helpful under normal circumstances.
- Evaluate how realistically you assess time.
Carefully monitor how long various projects and tasks take to complete. Then evaluate each one to compare how long you thought it would take and how long it actually took. Do you see a pattern of time underestimation? If so, you may need to adjust the amount of time you allot for certain projects moving forward. New and unfamiliar tasks inherently have unpredictable time requirements and steeper learning curves, so take that into account as you forecast completion times.
Develop your arrangement skills.
Simply listing your tasks and obligations isn’t enough. Prioritizing is also critical, as is arranging your schedule to accommodate other aspects of life outside of work. These techniques can be helpful:
- Avoid the tendency to classify everything as urgent.
Urgency and importance are related but they are not the same. Urgent tasks require immediate action, whereas important tasks tend to have significant and long-term consequences. Tasks that are both urgent and important should completed first, followed by urgent tasks, then important tasks, and all others after that.
- Use your calendar app.
Immediately record due dates for tasks and appointments as soon as you receive them. Many people utilize a color-coded blocking system so they can quickly see what’s on the agenda and how long the task, project, or event is slated for. And don’t forget to build in some free time! You might need it for an additional, urgent task, and if not, it’s great for getting those creative juices flowing.
Focus on your reactions and honing your adaptive abilities.
When high-pressure situations or competing crises pop up—which they inevitably do—we often become upset, anxious, and unfocused. To overcome this challenge and avoid distraction and procrastination, tap into healthy adaption, a flexible planning technique that accommodates these inevitable ups and downs. When crises loom, try these techniques:
- Use short bursts of effort.
When tasks seem overwhelming or stressful, putting forth maximum effort for brief intervals can help you avoid the urge to procrastinate. Get in the right frame of mind and prepare to tackle the task at hand for 20 minutes. Set your alarm and until it rings, concentrate on just that one task with no distractions. When the alarm goes off, take a short break and then get back to it. Repeat the process until the task is complete. Working on overwhelming tasks in these 20-minute chunks allows you to pull yourself into ‘the productive zone’ as needed.
- Reduce time-wasters.
We often allow ourselves to lose focus and be interrupted when we’re experiencing uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, frustration, or lack of interest. These learned responses can be overcome by changing our behaviors. Create do-not-disturb time slots, block social media sites, and mute the phone during critical work times. When tasks become challenging, it’s time to dig deep and employ effective time management techniques rather than giving in to time-wasters.
Many things in life are outside of our control but how we spend our time isn’t one of them. Working toward the outcomes you value the most will bring success and sustain the wonderful feeling of fulfillment that comes from accomplishing goals.
If you would like more information about time management, the experts at The HR Team offer an array of strategic business tools to support your goals. Please contact our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.