Are you staying awake at night worrying about all the things you aren’t ticking off your ‘to do’ list? Have you missed another important deadline? Were you late to your last meeting? Do you make promises to your customers that you
can’t keep? Are you always late finishing a project in the time scale you allocated? Does your time management leave a lot to be desired?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions it would suggest you aren’t managing your time as well as you’d like and you need to brush up on your time management skills.
Here are 13 useful tips that will help you improve your time management and help make you more efficient at what you do:
Have A Plan
Start your day with a plan! At the end of your previous working day set out what tasks you need to complete the following day. The thing I find that works the best is to choose between 3 and 5 things and prioritise them on your ‘to do’ list. Try and stick to your plan for the rest of the day.
Allocate A Time Limit To Each Task
You can manage your time better by allocating specific time to every task. It helps you stay focused on just that task and stops you eating into the time you’d planned for other items. E.g. 10 minutes reading, 30 minutes checking emails, 1 hour updating your accounts. Stop when you’ve reached your time limit and move on to the next task.
TIP: Good time management practise is to allocate an estimated time to the task when you add it to your ‘to do’ list. This helps you when planning your day. Also allow some buffer time in between tasks e.g. 5 or 10 mins to finish one task and start the next, or even to take a breather!
Keep Track Of Deadlines To Be Met
Ensure you know when you have to finish specific tasks. Use your calendar or diary to note when you need to have them finished. Plan in buffer time if necessary.
Use A Calendar Or Planner
Using your calendar to plan tasks is a fundamental part of planning your day. Most email software has a calendar as part of it. If you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other devices you use then you’ll always know your plans.
Personally, I like to use a paper diary in conjunction with an electronic calendar, but it’s whatever works for you. If you use a physical diary make sure you always have it to hand.
Organise Your Information In One Place
Keeping your ‘to do’ list and projects, plus other items together helps you keep on top of everything. A project management tool such as the one I use, Trello is central to staying organised. There are lots of other apps and tools that can help you stay organised. Perhaps you still prefer a paper based organiser. Again, it’s whatever works best for you.
Learn To Say “No”
There are only so many hours in a day so don’t take on more work than you can handle. Be honest and say you don’t have the capacity or ask if you can diary it in for when you do have time. Another alternative is to pass the work to an associate.
Know What Time It Is
When we are busying away with our work we forget what time it is. Make sure you have a clock in front of you that you can’t ignore. This will always keep you aware of the time at that moment.
If you have a meeting to attend or you are working in time blocks set yourself a reminder say 15 minutes before. This will keep you on track and give you time to prepare for your next task or activity. You can use the alarm on your phone for this or I use a piggy kitchen timer!
Track Your Time
When working for clients I always track my time using Toggl Track. When you start doing it for yourself you become more aware of how you are managing your time during the day.
This is something I ask clients to do when they know they need help but don’t know which tasks they need help with. I ask them to spend a day logging the time for each task they do. This can be quite an eye opener.
Having a time scale to track your time can help you stay focused and work more efficiently.
Stop The Distractions
If you are constantly distracted, you’ll most get nothing done. You’ll maybe even end up flitting from one task to another and progressing nothing. Do you do this? Focus on one task at a time.
Shut down all notifications on your laptop and any applications that you don’t need for the job. Only keep open tabs in your browser that you actually need. Move everything else that’s irrelevant to the task at hand, out of sight.
Turn off your phone! If there have been any calls, I usually find if it’s important the caller will leave a message and I call them back when I’m free.
Batch Similar Tasks Together
When you are planning for the day ahead batch similar tasks together and you’ll find that your day runs smoother as it is more streamlined.
For example, my daily tasks can be batched as follows:
- Lead follow up
- Social media engagement
- Creating social media posts
- Updating CRM
- General Admin
Prioritise Your Tasks
As I mentioned earlier, we need to prioritise our tasks when setting out our daily plans.
One technique to consider when prioritising is the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. This concept suggests that 2 tasks out of every 10 tasks on your ‘to do’ list will end up being more valuable than the other 8 items in total.
Unfortunately, most people put off working on the top 10% or 20% of tasks that are important and instead work on the easy and less important tasks and therefore they find they don’t get very far. You may find that if you keep prioritising your tasks on a daily basis, you’ll get more done and end up with a list of items on your list that don’t actually matter anymore and you can cross them off!
Another tip is to do the task you least want to do first. It gets it out of the way and sets you up for the rest of the day.
This technique doesn’t have to apply to just your working life, but to everything you do in life. You can read more about 80/20 rule here: https://www.briantracy.com/blog/personal-success/how-to-use-the-80-20-rule-pareto-principle/
When we have so many tasks to do, we often get overwhelmed with everything and our time management goes out of the window! Often, we are doing things we don’t like doing, shouldn’t be doing or perhaps aren’t so good at. Delegating these tasks to someone else frees up your time to enable you to focus on the important stuff that will help you build your business and reach your goals.
I would advise that when working on a task ask yourself “Is there only me that can do this task?” If the answer is no let it go…….
If you need help with any of your admin or marketing tasks get in touch and find out how I can help you. I offer a no obligation chat. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“giving you time to focus on the important stuff”.