Do you feel as though you’re running out of time to get things done? No room to add an extra hour to the day to complete certain tasks? Well, at the very least, we can learn to make better use of the 24 hours we have a day by improving our time management skills. It can be pretty simple.
Learning how you spend your time is the most important step to cracking your productivity level. Once you do, you can start being more efficient in your days. This guide covers all this and more. Here are some of the best techniques out there to help you spend your time wisely.
Time management is the process of organising, planning, and using time efficiently to complete a set of specific tasks. Time management is essential not only in the workplace but in your personal life, as well. Having time management skills can even enhance your overall quality of life.
Time management is considered one of the most desired workforce skills. With this skill, an employee can get things done, improve workflow, and accomplish the company’s goals without wasting so much as a single work hour. Let's break down further some of the reasons why this is such a coveted skill set.
If you have proper time management skills, you don't need all-nighters to beat a deadline or avoid procrastination.
These skills help manage your time and effectively space out your work while keeping a regular sleep routine. If you want to produce good quality work, you can help yourself by getting an adequate amount of rest. Nobody wants to submit “rushed” output, after all.
Yes, your health may suffer as a result of poor time management and can lead to burnout. Having proper time management helps you take control of your time.
Deadlines may constantly bug you and might get you too frantic to accomplish your tasks. Time management skills help make you more productive by meeting your deadlines and lowering your stress levels.
You can accomplish more when you can allocate a specific time to a task. Sticking to your plan will have a better effect than working with no predefined time slot.
Productivity is achieved if you are in control of your time. This leads to better focus and efficiency. When that happens, there will be no need to rush things; you'll be able to go through the workday much more quickly.
Poor time management skills may wreak havoc on your productivity and, in turn, will cause you to miss career opportunities. An excellent example of this is when a colleague consistently outdoes you at work.
Chances are, they'll most likely be promoted ahead of you. If one of your goals is to climb the corporate ladder, you should learn to hack your time management system to capitalise on more opportunities down the line.
By creating a better schedule, you can remove or delegate any unnecessary tasks. That alone should help you focus on those crucial assignments.
Being late to a meeting can be one of the more awkward situations you can find yourself in. Remember, better to be three hours too soon than a minute too late.
Finally, proper time management makes sure you have time for what matters. You can now go over crucial details for your project. Plus, you can find the time to spend with loved ones. Read on how you can get more out of your weekends, to help you recharge.
With proper time management, you will realise how much you can do and enjoy things that matter to you. By mastering this skill, you will be more confident in achieving your goals and controlling your time.
Time management isn’t just about managing time. It means having a better grasp of your time, energy, and space to finish the task at hand. In other words: it’s more about managing activity. Time, after all, cannot be managed. We have no control over time, but we do have control over actions we perform within time constraints. There are three components that we may consider for such.
You need to be aware that time is limited. It also helps to be generally aware of how much time is required to perform specific actions.
You need to be able to organise goals, activities, and schedules under the time you have, as well as the time required to get things done.
Few things go according to schedule, and you need to be able to adapt when things change.
Most people focus on organising to improve management, but all three are essential. If you only focus on organisation, you might need help accurately estimating how long tasks will take and adapting when needed. To be good at time management, you must be aware, organised, and flexible.
Effective time management is a transferable skill that employers are always looking for. Strong time management skills show potential employers that you can meet your deadlines and need less supervision. Below are some examples of time management skills that you could include on your resume that could be useful in your next job.
When an activity does not contribute to productivity, it can be considered a time waster. These things can also be regarded as activities that keep us busy and productive but don’t help us progress much at all.
There are many forms of time wasters, from chatty colleagues to simply being disorganised with your things. Knowing that there are different triggers to waste time, we can find the common culprits.
Colleagues usually mean well, but they often disrupt your focus and prevent you from accomplishing a task. A way to deal with them is to let them know you are unavailable during specific periods.
A messy working space can also steal your concentration and overload your senses with excessive stimulation. This makes it difficult to relax and refocus when you need it. Make it a habit to tidy your workspace every day, and this will help you feel ready and refreshed to take on another day.
With the rise of remote work, a recent study by Qualtrics found that remote workers spend more time proving that they're working than actually working; about a third of employees feel more pressure to be more visible to their managers when they're working from home. Managers want to know how their team is progressing, but constant monitoring can be counterproductive.
According to Harvard Business Review, up to 71% of respondents in a survey said that most meetings are inefficient and unproductive. That tells how much people get frustrated sitting through long, pointless meetings. You can start by auditing meetings to see how much gets done and if everyone is focused and attentive.
In 2020, the number of Internet users in Malaysia was 88.7%, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. This was a 1.3% jump from two years prior. All signs point to larger growth in the past years, especially in the urban setting where 75.6% of users are situated from.
The number of social media users in Malaysia at the start of 2023 was equivalent to 78.5% of the total population. It's also estimated that people spend around 2 hours and 27 minutes daily on social media, which is only increasing. This has become a massive problem for many people.
Not only does this time waste take away from productivity, but it can also lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Reducing your screen time and blocking distractions is hard, but you'll also notice that keeping away gives you more focus and time to do what matters.
We easily get caught up in the constant cycle of checking and responding to emails. And as remote work is standard, 86% of professionals use email as their preferred method of communication. Establish a routine when checking your inbox, check emails three times a day (morning, after lunch, and mid-afternoon)
Sure, procrastination happens from time to time. But that doesn’t mean you should make it a habit. By organising your tasks ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to handle fast-approaching deadlines.
There's a famous quote, "There's nothing worse than doing some task exceptionally well that shouldn't be done at all." Busy work is defined as an activity that is undertaken to pass the time and stay active but only keeps one occupied.
Examples of busy work include organising documents, running errands, and typing. Ditch the “busy mentality.” Instead of knocking off 15 things on your list, start with three that produce the most results.
Once you’ve identified those pesky time wasters, you may now organise your goals and activities effectively. This means creating a schedule and learning to adapt to possible changes if necessary. All these are essential skills to have to be good at time management.
The first step towards effective time management is ensuring you're going in the right direction. This means being precise about your goal and knowing what you want to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it. It helps to be concrete and action-oriented.
Forming Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals is important for a good goal-setting system. This prevents us from wasting a lot of time on unimportant tasks. With clear goals, you know where, when, why, and how to achieve them.
Like everyone else, you are limited by time, energy, and attention, so you can only get some things done. Because of this, you must be able to prioritise the most important things. If you cannot prioritise, you'll spend time on relatively unimportant tasks that don't get you any closer to your goals.
One of the best productivity techniques is the “ Time Management Matrix,” initially created by US President Dwight Eisenhower and later popularised by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Four quadrants in the time management matrix categorise each task or responsibility based on its urgency and importance.
Organising your tasks into these four quadrants will make you more precise when making your to-do list, managing your activities, and knowing where to spend more time.
When you start your day without a plan, you'll be reactive rather than focused on your priorities. The best remedy is planning and scheduling earlier. Creating a daily, weekly, and even monthly schedule will help you approach your responsibilities with intention.
One technique you can use is time blocking, which is a method that divides your day into blocks of time. Each block of time is dedicated to finishing a specific task or group of tasks, and only those tasks.
With days that are time blocked in advance, you will only have to constantly make choices about what to focus on. All you need to do is follow your time-blocked schedule. If you get distracted, look at your schedule and return to whichever task you blocked off time for.
Another technique is having a good to-do list, which means having manageable tasks that help you become productive and avoid procrastination. A good to-do list makes it easy to complete tasks without being overwhelmed. It takes a bit of practice to create an excellent task list. However, once you learn to put all the pieces together, things will look much better, and you'll be more productive overall.
Some things on your to-do list should be done by someone other than you. If you think about it, your time is best spent working on high-value tasks. If you consistently spend significant time on relatively unimportant activities, you should try to delegate them to someone else. When deciding what tasks to delegate, ask yourself: is this the best use of my time?
Here are the types of tasks to consider delegating:
Are you putting off something that needs to be done? This is called procrastination. Admittedly, it happens to the best of us. You need to understand and be aware of why you struggle, and this will help you work on your time management.
According to Tim Pychyl, author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, the more opposed you find a task, the more likely you are to procrastinate. In his research, Pychyl identifies seven triggers that make a job seem more averse. If you think about tasks you've been putting off right now, you will likely find that they possess many, if not all, characteristics that Pychyl discovered to make task procrastination worthy:
Getting to the root of the problem becomes vital in finding out how to stop procrastinating. After reflection, you could take some tips below to overcome it.
Now that we've discussed time management skills and tips, we can look at time management tools that will help you better manage your time.
You'll need a task manager to help you prioritise your tasks and projects. You can go the old-fashioned route and make lists with pen and paper. However, if you want to use a digital task manager, you have several options:
If you want to manage your time effectively, you'll need a calendar. They also help you determine your schedule and track things. Here are some solid options:
Tracking how you spend your time can help you see where there is room for improvement. As the old saying goes, you can't manage what you don't measure. Time tracking allows you to manage your time better. These digital trackers can give you insight into how to work more effectively and how much time you spend on activities.
There are plenty of tools you can use to help you on your time management journey. Regardless of which means you opt for, monitor it closely to ensure you can achieve and stick to your goals.
Even with the best intentions, there will always be days when you will wonder where your time went. But rather than feeling guilty about poor time management, it's better to recognise that time management is a system for improvement, not perfection. You can start improvement by developing the proper habits.
Effective communication helps you be more productive. At work, where we collaborate to accomplish tasks, we cannot afford miscommunication as this becomes another time waster. This means that we’re going to have to redo mistakes and spend time clearing and clarifying information. Here are some ways you can save time by communicating effectively.
All these tips can help you be on the same page with colleagues and maintain high morale. These tips will also be productive in the long run saving you and your team from communication mishaps.
Once you've mastered the habit of effective time management, one of the benefits is having time to do the things you want to do. All work and no play will bring you down, so your shift now is to achieve a work-life balance that has proper boundaries. Having a work-life balance helps reduce stress and prevents burnout. This makes it all the more important to start s orting things out.
According to a survey by Jobstreet, the third highest driver to attract job seekers in Malaysia is work-life balance. 12.7% of job seekers see this as a must in potential jobs, citing the top three that contribute to these are compensation for overtime or working on public holidays (59.8%), reasonable number of annual leaves entitlement (63.4%), and a five-day work week (57.8%). People are now putting value in seeking jobs that promote well-being and flexibility.
Time management skills are one of the most in-demand skills employers are looking for. Knowing how you spend your time, organising your tasks, and having the flexibility for sudden changes are essential to get things done. When you manage your time effectively, you make a much more significant impact by working on things that matter.
You can also live a meaningful life with less stress and anxiety. This gives way to a work-life balance where you get to do more and win professionally and personally. Improving this skill, though difficult, can prove to be worth all the effort. Be consistent and put in the work. You won't regret it.
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