Feel like you’re drowning under the weight of your epic to-do list? Come up for air with these top tips on how to improve your time management skills.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘there are never enough hours in the day’. But is there a way we can make the most out of the time available to us?
The short answer is: Yes! When dealing with a to-do list as long as your arm, it’s crucial to manage your workload as efficiently as possible. Luckily, time management is a skill that can be learned and we’ve researched advice and tips to help you make mincemeat of that to-do list.
Why is time management so important?
According to the International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, “Time Management is an answer to the issue of ‘not enough time’. Simply put, time management revolves around the tools, skills, activities and mindset needed to work each day in a more efficient manner.”
Good time management can be the difference between a productive day and one that slips through our fingers. Used well, it can help us to accomplish goals, moderate stress levels and keep on track of our day-to-day tasks.
How can you improve your time management skills?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to time management – what works for you might not work for your colleagues. Instead, wherever possible, employers should give their teams the tools and resources they need to manage their own time more effectively.
To start, Forbes suggests the following simple techniques:
- Use time-tracking websites. Time-tracking tools such as Toggl or Harvest offer great insight into which tasks are eating up the most of your time. This knowledge can help you plan your working day better, as well as see where to potentially cut back during busy periods.
- Set reminders. In a fast-paced work environment, it’s possible for the occasional Zoom call or deadline to slip through the net. Setting reminders is an easy solution to keep up with your commitments. Not only that, they’re a great way to instil healthy practices into your working day, like taking a full hour at lunch or going for a quick walk on your break.
- Schedule more intentionally. If you work best with a little wiggle room in your diary, opt for scheduling. Rather than reacting to specific task reminders, block out an hour of time every day to organise your priorities, whether that’s working through your to-do list or catching up on paperwork. You can even ask colleagues not to disturb you during this period, leaving you free to buckle down and crack on.
In Brian Christian’s TED-Ed talk on managing time, he likens humans to computers. When striving to get as much work as possible done in a limited time, machines can sometimes get overwhelmed – just like us! Over the last 50 years, computer scientists have learnt lots of good strategies for managing time effectively. Brian shares how we can use these insights in our own lives.
How can I improve my work to-do list?
To-do lists are strongly ingrained into our working culture. However, they should always help, not hinder! If your list is looking messy or feels a little daunting, it may be time for a refresh. If you’re struggling, Harvard Business Review suggests separating your tasks into three lists and using these in tandem with your calendar:
- List 1 – For your important, but not time-sensitive, projects
- List 2 – For today’s priorities
- List 3 – For low-priority actions that are non-essential
Once you’ve assessed your workload in this way, portion out time in your calendar to continue with your most urgent priorities. The next day? Do the same again. By considering both your short and long-term goals each day, you free yourself up to focus on the most time-sensitive jobs (oh, and ensure those less important tasks don’t creep back onto your main to-do list!).
Remember, taking breaks is also a key component of good time management. Our free webinar on Wednesday 23 March, 12.30-1.30pm, is all about the power of rest. For more information or to sign up, click here.