If you have made New Year’s Resolutions and decided on your goals for the upcoming months, effective time management skills could be the key to getting what you want in 2015.
Time management is all about making the most of your time and achieving a balanced lifestyle, whether you’re at work or home. Here are some top tips to help you be more productive with your time.
To start with, you should ask yourself some big questions. What do you really want, what are your priorities, what’s the next thing you want to achieve professionally or personally?
Knowing what you want to achieve can help you make short and long term plans. Write up a master plan of your goals, with dates that you would like to achieve them by.
It’s good to have goals so that if you’re finding it hard to focus, or realise that you’re wasting time, you can pull yourself back into shape and work towards what you want.
Plan Your Day
Planning is essential, and a good diary could make all the difference to your time management skills. This could be a ‘page a day’ physical diary or an electronic diary like Google Calendar.
You should use the diary to:
- Mark deadlines and goal dates coming up
- List everything you need to do that day – either in the morning or the night before
- Indicate your daily priorities – think about what is urgent, important, or both
- Include timings on your list – how long you want tasks to take, how long they actually took
- Schedule breaks – always take at least 30 minutes for your lunch break, as you will be more effective than if you skip a break. Think about other productive breaks, like taking a daily walk in the sunshine to clear your mind, or exercising in the morning
- Reflect on your day – have you achieved all you wanted? If not, what stopped you?
It’s a good idea to record everything you do in the diary for the first week or two, so you can see how you actually spend time. Include time spent surfing the web, on the phone, playing games, chatting to neighbours, watching television, etc. You’ll soon discover what interferes with your day to day tasks and your overall goals.
The outside world constantly interrupts us when we are trying to get things done, and many of the distractions are not important.
To make the most of your time, see if you can cut down on unnecessary distractions while you’re busy:
- The telephone – is picking up the phone urgent, or could you leave it to your voicemail?
- Emails – unless it’s essential for a job, cut down the amount of time you spend checking and replying to emails – it can actually increase stress and decrease effective time management. Check emails once a day and decide when/if you need to reply
- Social Networks – cut down the amount of time you spend checking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social network you visit so it’s minimal, once a day at most
- Websites – if you have a list of sites that you like to check every day, add them to your browser bookmarks and include a break to view them in your daily schedule, say at 10.30am with a cup of tea
There are lots of other things you can do to help make the most of your time. Why not:
- Get a clock for your desk or wear a watch so you keep better track of time
- Set reminders for important jobs
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Group related jobs together
- Learn how to say no – you don’t need to do everything people ask you to!
What else could people do to make the most of their time?