There is never enough time in the day to do everything, which is why it is important to make the most of the time you do have. The biggest hurdle to efficient time use is a lack of planning and structure. Follow these tips and you will find yourself being more productive and less stressed.
Tips for getting the most out of each workday
Create a schedule of tasks – Every day should be planned, with time allocated to everything you need to get done that day. This is a list of things you will get done, not things you’d like to get done or need to be done, rather, a realistic plan of how you will spend your day.
Learn to prioritise – Not all tasks are created equal and some will take precedence over others. It is vital to ensure the business critical tasks are taken care of first. Prioritisation will also help you to say “no” when you have enough work on your plate.
Say “No” when necessary – Overloading yourself with work is the easiest way to ensure you miss deadlines, produce poor work, and create stress. If you have enough work, say “no” to taking on new work, or defer it to a later date.
Give every task a time limit – Working until something is finished is a way to ensure time gets away from you. Set an amount and stick to it. If the task can’t be completed in the time frame, it may need to be broken into smaller, more manageable pieces and delegated.
Delegate – Letting go of control can be difficult but it can help save a lot of time and get urgent tasks completed quickly. Asking for assistance to get a project completed on time is better than sticking it out alone and finishing it late, or allowing other deadlines to slip.
Use a calendar and an organiser – While the daily schedule is important, seeing the bigger picture is equally so. A calendar lets you see the whole week, month, and even year, allowing you to plan each day more effectively in a wider context. There is an endless array of choices, both in terms of physical stationery and smartphone apps.
Eliminate time wasters – Smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, TV, these are all things that can prevent you from completing your work on time and will actively take time away from you. If you need to concentrate to complete a task, switch off your phone. Make your voicemail message very clear that you will return all messages at a more convenient time.
Start your day early – Or, at the very least, on time. A common trait among successful people is how early they start their day. Richard Branson is up by 5:45am, Tim Cook starts his day at 4:30am, as does Howard Schultz, the man behind Starbucks. These are extreme examples, but getting up and getting out the door even just a few minutes late, will set you up for a frantic start, which will affect the mood and productivity of your day.
Experiment and find the approach that works for you
Time management is a skill that takes time to develop and everyone will find a different system that works for them. The above tips are designed to provide the basis of a personalised strategy to make the most of every minute of your day.