Time – this fascinating and elusive concept that measures the apparent progression of events and splits our reality into past, present and future. From a less philosophical perspective, time is what most professionals would call the bane of their existence. If you’re an entrepreneur or occupy a management position, you’re surely familiar with this attitude because you most likely resonate with it.
As a busy professional, you’re in a constant race against time, and most often than not, you come out on the losing end. The struggle of fitting all your tasks and responsibilities into a standard 8-hour workday is real. Even if you work overtime, which a lot of people do on a regular basis, it may still feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done. And the story repeats itself every day.
The bad news is no one has found a way (yet) to stop or control the passage of time or extend the duration of a day. The good news is we’re all in this together. The even better news is that it’s in your power to make time work for, not against you. We’re used to seeing time as a foe when it can actually become a friend if you take the time – pun intended – to develop effective time-management skills that will make your workdays so much more productive and enjoyable.
Start your day right
The way you start your day influences your behavior and, thus, your ability to cope with work demands. If you enter the office in a hurry and randomly jump on the first task that comes to mind, you can expect the rest of your day to be just as chaotic. But if you approach things strategically, you have better chances of getting things done right and on time.
Establishing a positive morning routine that sets the ground for a productive day can make a huge difference in your work life. By that, we don’t mean eating a delicious breakfast or drinking a generous cup of coffee, although both these things can help a lot. But you might want to try to arrive to work early, set your office in order, or take a few minutes to get into the right mindset before you start checking tasks off your to-do list. All these little actions can give you the boost you need to stay on track.
Prioritize and plan
If you’re not properly organized and have a tendency to leave things to chance, don’t be surprised when you find yourself swamped with unresolved tasks, last-minute issues, and looming deadlines. A messy work schedule is a major productivity deterrent, so if you want things to go according to plan, you need to have a plan in the first place.
That starts with listing all your tasks and responsibilities in the order of their importance and urgency, so you can decide how much time and effort you need to devote to each one. Then, you need to figure out how you’re going to solve every issue on your agenda. And there you have it; you’re managed to work out an efficient plan. But you also need to practice discipline and stick to this plan for things to run smoothly.
If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself is a principle that can be successfully applied in most situations. However, if you take things too far and turn this into a letter of the law, you risk becoming an overwhelmed and constantly stressed-out control freak, and that’s definitely a title you’re not going to enjoy.
It’s true that certain activities require your direct attention and implication, and you have to oversee them yourself. But there’s also a good part of your daily tasks that other people in your team can handle. So, instead of filling your plate with more responsibilities than you can handle, you should learn how to delegate. This will give you more time to focus on more important matters and maybe sneak in a few breaks when necessary.
Technology can be the greatest ally in your quest to win the race against time. a lot of the tasks and processes that once implied manual labor can now be automated by using tech tools and solutions. As you may assume, making the transition from manual to automation comes with major time-saving benefits.
Apart from that, there are also plenty of great tools for time management that you can take advantage of, so you can keep track of every task you need to complete, calculate how much time you spend on each specific activity, create more efficient schedules and use your time more wisely.
End the multitasking cycle
We’ve been thought that in a work environment, the ability to juggle more tasks at the same time is considered a superpower, when in fact, reality (and scientific research) proves that multitasking is one of the biggest myths ever, and a complete waste of time for that matter.
It’s simply not possible for the human brain to focus on more than one task at a time, so when you try to multitask, you actually bounce back and forth between tasks really fast. This increases the risk of mistakes and leads to lower performance levels, so multitasking is not going to help you improve your time management in any way.
One of the best ways to get time on your side is to get to know yourself better. This might sound a little farfetched, but there’s a very logical connection between the two. We all have different work styles and like to do things a certain way. Knowing what your preferred work style is and identifying the time of the day when you’re the most productive will enable you to adjust your work schedule accordingly.
It’s also important to understand your personal limitations, so you can prevent task overload and set realistic goals for yourself. That will help you work more efficiently and thus increase your productivity.
Your relationship with time is definitory for workplace success, so if you’ve been struggling to make things work at work, these tips can help you find the balance you’re looking for.