Professional Education and Career Blog

10 Tips for Effective Time Management

Time ManagementIt’s probably the case that our days are not going to get longer, and the 24 hour day is here to stay. If you can’t get more time, then the solution is to use the time you have more efficiently. Proper time management can help you be more productive, leaving more time for balancing work and leisure. It’s important to develop strategies for managing your time, because it’s not an exaggeration to say that often the difference between success and failure is the amount of time we’re able to spend on a project.

Tip #1: Write everything down, and keep a list of tasks

Keep a list organized by priority of everything going on in your life. Each day, sort out what needs to be accomplished that day. Too many people make this more complicated than it needs to be. A spreadsheet can be a great way to organize a list of tasks, and with sites like Google Spreadsheets making it available anywhere you have a browser or a smart-phone, it can be very quick and efficient to keep it up to date.

Tip #2: Do the most important, not necessarily the one that’s due.

If something is important, then it’s important. Many people get hung up on due dates, rather than focusing on the bigger picture. That’s not to say that due dates aren’t important; that may drive the priority of something. But if you have something that’s extremely important, but you’ve promised something less important at a specific time, try and renegotiate the due date rather than just be a slave to the current date.

Tip #3: If it would take less than two minutes, do it now.

The stress of having a long list of little things can weigh on your mind. Sometimes just writing down a task, plus the additional time to think about it later, exceeds the amount of time it would take to just do it right away. If it’s a small thing, just do it.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to say “no”

If you don’t have time for something, then don’t add to your burden by taking it.

Tip #5: Delegate when you can

If you have more of a load than you can handle, consider thinking of someone that you could delegate some of the less important tasks. Keep your focus on what’s important.

Tip #6: Work to reduce procrastination

Procrastination is a whole subject in itself. Work to find ways to stay focused. See How to Defeat Procrastination and Get Yourself Back on Track.

Tip #7: Do an audit of your day and see where the time goes

Keep a journal of what exactly happens during the day. Keep track of exactly how much time is spent on each thing, such as phone calls, various breaks, web browsing, meetings, etc. You might be surprised where some of your time goes. Use the knowledge to find ways to reduce the amount of time in spots where it makes sense.

Compress TimeTip #8: Don’t waste small bits of time

Sometimes when people think they have to leave to go somewhere in 15 minutes, that’s a license to spin their wheels for a bit. A lot can be accomplished in a short period of concentrated focus. When you have short bits of time, challenge yourself to see how much you can accomplish in a short burst. Sometimes those can be the most productive times of the day.

Tip #9: Close the door or put up a sign

Don’t be afraid to put out the “do not disturb” indicator in whatever form it needs to take to keep people from pestering you for the amount of time you need. It’s not rude, and it’s not unreasonable to need some peace to get things done. People can wait.

Tip #10: Don’t get hung up on details

If there is a detail that doesn’t make a huge amount of difference, don’t spend 20 minutes trying to get it perfect. Get the important things done first, and if there’s time, go back and tweak the details.