Better time management skills are what we all want to have and something that we all struggle with. We make a proper time table, set times for every task, but either we procrastinate, or the work takes longer than expected, and that messes up the entire day. What follows is anxiety, as you try to finish the task as soon as possible to be able to complete the next job quicker so that you’re back on track. But nothing happens as planned, and you end up working late hours of the day. Even the work quality takes a hit, and you end up stressed.
For working professionals, it is essential to finish tasks on time. If you perpetually finish work assignments late, it could affect your career growth. This is precisely why time management skills are critical.
This article will provide tips, benefits, and best practices on effective time management skills and how you can implement them in your day-to-day life.
1. Tackle Time-Consuming Tasks First
When the day begins, and you list out your tasks for the day, calculate which tasks are easy, challenging and which will take more or less time. Most people go for the more manageable tasks first. The reasoning usually is, "once this is out of the way, it will be easier to focus on the difficult and more time-consuming tasks." This is the wrong approach. Instead of doing the more manageable tasks first, start with the heavier tasks. Give it all you have first thing in the morning so that you only have a handful of easy tasks towards the end of the day. This is helpful because, when the day begins, you are filled with energy and spending it on easy tasks first is a waste of energy. You can optimally utilize this energy to do the difficult things first thing in the morning. Surprisingly, you will find that once the heavy lifting is done, doing the easy tasks takes up minimal time. Best of all, it will be much easier to accomplish all of your tasks on time.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks
Not all tasks are difficult or time-consuming. Some tasks while less time-consuming require more mental involvement than other tasks. Be sure to prioritize your list of tasks. Ask yourself: Which of these tasks are urgent? Which of these have a short deadline? How much mental power will each task take? Once this is done, you will have your list of tasks arranged in the degree of importance. Do the most important tasks first and then gradually move to tasks of lower importance. This will ensure that your time is managed correctly and each task is given its due attention.
3. Make a To-Do List
It also helps to make a to-do list. The ideal way to go about it is to make a list of the tasks either first thing in the morning or the night before hitting the bed. The advantage of making this to-do list is that it gives you the freedom to play around with your time. Your professional work is not the only task you have at hand. You also have family, friends, and personal work. Everyone does. When you make a list, you assign a particular time to every task, be office-related or not. This helps prioritize all your tasks. And it gives you freedom in the way that you have no strict timing associated with each task. What you have is a rough list, and you can always do the tasks in any order. The freedom to do the tasks and pace you’re comfortable completing the tasks more manageable.
4. Make a Time Table
Some may prefer developing a time table to ensure tasks are completed on schedule. A point to be noted here is that making a time table every day is a time-consuming task. Let’s say the task you were to complete at 1 pm isn't finished until 1:30 pm. Now, not only have you missed your assigned time limit, but you also have to commit to completing the remaining tasks even faster. This will trickle down like a domino effect and will ultimately be unmanageable. What you can do instead is make a rough time table for a month and follow it accordingly. Assign a time for all office work and other tasks. The fact that it will be a rough timetable will give you the freedom to spend more time on some tasks, and less on others. Even when a task is delayed, it will not majorly impact the remaining list of tasks. You will automatically give yourself a buffer where the tasks may take longer than expected.
5. One Task at a Time
If you think multi-tasking will help you, you may want to reconsider. Multi-tasking can be risky and often times does not work at least not without sacrificing work quality. Trying to complete multiple tasks at one-time can be complicated and may lead to unnecessary errors and oversights. To ensure you're giving each project the time and attention they need, try completing one task at a time.
6. Accept Help
Your professional work doesn't necessarily have to be a solo task. When possible and appropriate, why not rely on assistance from your colleagues? This doesn’t have to be in the form of delegating your tasks, but if you work in a team-friendly environment, accept help and guidance from your teammates. Most colleagues are okay with helping with a task if you come across a roadblock. This may also be helpful for career advancement because it shows collaboration and a team-oriented mindset. But if your team doesn’t have anyone who seems helpful, you can inculcate this habit by helping them in their tasks. When you take initiative to assist your teammates in their projects, your colleagues will be more likely to reciprocate. The point here is that if you work with a team you shouldn’t always take the burden of large projects entirely on yourself. If you have people working under you, delegate your tasks. If you are working with a team, allow your colleagues to assist you.
7. Avoid Perfection
Yes, you want to be the best at your work, but that is precisely what it has to be, your best, not perfect. Whenever you try to aim for perfection, you tend to be overly critical of your work. Not because your work isn't quality or doesn't meet standards, but you will never be truly satisfied with your work products. Even if you are, the cost of this perfection will be mental exhaustion, which you can’t indulge in every day. Even in your professional field, it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Always deliver your best effort. Aiming for perfection will set unattainable standards for you, which will only lead to frustration.
Time management is a skill that can be developed over time. No habit is formed in one day. Try out these tips and see if some of the methods are effective. Ultimately, it’s your time you are managing, and it has to be done in a way that works best for you.