Top tips on how to efficiently manage your time at work
Are there ever enough hours in the day?!
What is time management?
Time management is about doing the right things at the right time. It is not about working the most hours; it is about what you can get done in the time available.
For example, if you were given 10 hours to complete a task in, you would use up all of those 10 hours. However, it may have only needed 3 hours. If you were given the same task and 3 hours to complete it in, you would still be able to complete the task, maybe even more efficiently in that amount of time.
This is because you will put your mind to the task at hand, so by taking a positive view on your use of time rather than using time as an excuse is essential. Improvement in our time management is only likely to come from changes in our attitudes and values.
Don’t put off today what you can do tomorrow.
How many times in a day do you say to yourself that a particular piece of work isn’t important right now, I will sort it out tomorrow?
It is incredibly important to prioritize your day and your deadlines. You must schedule all items, even those non urgent items you really want to do later. I know from personal experience that the things most often missed are the tasks I keep putting off until later.
You could for example make a list of jobs you have for the day and prioritise them in order of urgency and importance then tick these off as you complete. Not only does this keep your day in order but it will also give great satisfaction after completing a task.
Make sure to do this list in order otherwise you will end up picking and choosing the tasks you prefer and not the tasks that are a little more complicated yet more important.
Another important factor to organising your work is to have a clean and tidy desk. It may not sound important but not finding your files because your files are falling all over the desk is never a good thing. Complete one job before going on to the next, this will also help your desk stay tidier and will help keep your mind less cluttered too!
Where is time wasted?
Time can be wasted in many different ways. Think about the following when taking on a new task or project.
- Will it affect your own time and schedules?
- What do you do, which should be done by someone else?
- Are you filing and organising paperwork when it isn’t your job?
- Are you in sales yet you are doing marketing?
- Are you spending longer on a task in order to put off another?
Often it is not time that is lacking, it is the wasted time on doing jobs that are not or no longer relevant.
The importance of saying NO
Saying no is as important as saying yes. This can be a very difficult area for a lot of people. People are often concerned with how other people will feel or what the consequences of saying no will be. If you cannot fit more work into you schedule, you must decline it. Be honest and direct without being rude. Remember everyone at some point in their career has to say no.
‘My best tip for saying no is to be straightforward and not dance around the subject. Explain that the task, project or activity doesn’t align with your current priorities and, if the situation changes, you will revisit the topic. Also, sometimes you can suggest an alternative solution. Remember, everyone has to say no at some point, so the person will respect your candor.’ — Johanna Lanus, CEO and founder of Work With Balance.
Take a step back and have a look at how you actually work. Are you doing something you shouldn’t be? Are you prioritizing all aspects of work in the right order? Remember that time management is all about having the right attitude, not about not having enough hours in the day.
Make a bubble diagram and note down which parts of your day are ‘the pink fluffy parts’ or in a more real term, the parts that are unnecessary or not your job to do. Write down all the important jobs you need to carry out in a day and which jobs need your upmost attention and urgency. Give each job a specific amount of time that it should take you to complete, and complete it in that amount of time.
Once you have the right attitude going forward then managing your time throughout the day will become a breeze and you will be packed up and ready to walk out that door when the clock hits home time!