Your Essential Guide to Time Management

One of the major obstacles to overcome in achieving your goals is good time management. You may begin to find that the work required to get to your next stage in goal development is pushed aside for other more urgent jobs. Use this guide to time management to help you meet targets and become recognised as an effective team member.

Your Essential Guide to Time Management

You may begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed by what you have asked of yourself.

Have you noticed that some people manage to get a lot more done within the same 24 hours as you?

Good time management skills can help you become more efficient, overcome large workloads and achieve more.

What is time management?

Do you find that you are constantly working to get on top of everything that needs completing in your workplace and home life?

You probably find yourself dividing your attention across a wide range of projects which leaves you stressed and worn out.

Time management allows you to achieve more in a required time deadline. You will be able to achieve this by working smarter and not working harder.

You will need to look objectively at the way you manage your daily tasks and ask yourself if you can use your time smarter. Remember that working effectively is not the same as being always working.

What are the results of poor time management?

  • Increased levels of stress
  • Not completing work within the required deadlines
  • Less developed career
  • Poor reputation as a professional
  • Working inefficiently
  • Reducing the quality of your work

What can time management improve?

  • Efficiency and productivity increases
  • Improved advancement in your role
  • Reduced stress
  • More opportunities to achieve life goals
  • Enhanced professional reputation
  • Open up opportunities for career advancement

You can often achieve less by working in a frenzy of activity without a time management plan. Once you have learned the skills required for good time management, you can get more done in less time.

Learning time management skills now can provide increased benefits for your current position and throughout your entire career.

Tools to improve Time management

Activity Logs

Your memory is not always the best recorder of how you have spent your time throughout the working day. An activity log is a written record of how you have spent your day.

  • Your activity log will record the date and time of an activity
  • a description of the activity
  • the time it took to complete
  • your emotions about the work
  • whether you find the task of high or low value.

You can then use your activity log to get a good picture of how much time has been wasted throughout the day. You may be surprised to see how much time has been wasted on low value activities.

To-Do Lists

To-Do Lists can help you to prioritise activities leading up to a deadline. You should organise the list with the highest priority jobs at the top and the least at the bottom.

With a to-do list you can focus on the jobs which require the most effort and prioritise those jobs which are not as important.

Action Programs

Action Programs help you to organise your to-do lists into a manageable order of priority. You can also use action programs to decide which jobs can be delegated to others. They help you to focus on jobs of a high priority and spend less time on activities of lower value.

Input processing technique

The input processing technique was developed by David Allen to help manage the importance of information received at any time. This process helps you to manage phone calls, emails, voicemails, invoices, meeting requests and other documents.

Input processing technique is essentially a series of questions which should be applied to each new piece of information that arrives. From undergoing this process, you can evaluate the appropriate action to be taken for it.

Valuing your time

Adding a monetary value to your time can help you to assess if a job is valuable to you. If a job costs more in your time than the benefits that you get from it, you will be able to organise your work in order of priority.

Once you understand how much time you spend on non-essential activities, you may decide that some time consuming activities are not valuable to you.

Reduce Multitasking

By multi-tasking, we may feel as though we are getting more work done. But multitasking may in fact be a less productive way of working.

Multi-tasking includes putting important jobs to one side to manage smaller tasks or being interrupted on a regular basis.

Trying to focus on two jobs at once can produce inferior results for both of the tasks that you are trying to accomplish. As a result, you work is of lower quality, you become more stressed and it can cost you in time.

Using Leverage

Leverage of time and resources works on the same principle as leverage of a heavy object. Rather than trying to lift the object directly, you use a lever to transfer some of the weight, making lifting easier.

Leverage of time can include delegation and employing someone else to complete time consuming work. You can also use technology to assist in making a job easier and less time consuming.

Leverage of resources include particular personal assets that you can employ to get a job completed. This can be financial resources, personal connections or a particular skill set.

Learning How to Organise

Keeping organised can help you manage your time more effectively. People who are unorganised can spend too much time trying to find important documents, files and lists of notes which prevents them from getting started at the task in hand.

Get in the habit of writing important information into a notebook. This can include conversations with clients, ideas and dates to remember.

Keep files close by which you use more often. This saves unnecessary searching for information that you will need multiple times throughout the day.

Use organisational tools such as calendars, spread sheets and planners to record your schedules.

Keep your desk free from clutter. Once an item has been dealt with, remove it from the desk and file it away. Recycle any paperwork you do not need and keep stationary in a convenient drawer or cabinet.

File management

Effective file management is a skill which can help you save time throughout the working day. You will easily be able to locate the correct information when you need it. Important documents which are hidden beneath a pile of paperwork can take hours of your time to try and find.

Efficient file management means not saving unnecessary documents, following consistent naming of folders and a separation of work which has been completed from work which has been done.

Electronic file management

Managing the files on your computer is just as important as managing your physical files of paperwork efficiently.

You will often find yourself spending unnecessary time searching for a piece of information which is required straight away. This makes you look unprofessional to a client or a manager who is waiting for you to locate the file required.

Keeping your filing system organised can save you time and provide a more efficient service.

Managing emails

Most people in today’s workplace understand the problem of email overload. Emails need to be read and responded to which takes a significant portion of the working day. Although emails are very useful, they have also created a mass of daily communication which needs to be dealt with.

Try to prevent interrupting your workflow with answering emails. Instead, dedicate certain times of the day to managing your inbox. Organising your inbox can also make it easier to manage. Sorting emails into correct files can help you focus on the most important messages first.

Read more about time management tools here.

Do you need to improve your time management? Check out one of the links below

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