One of the most important skills you can have in life is effective time management. Time is precious, especially when working in a busy environment. If you never seem to have enough time to complete your tasks, managing your time could help you gain control of your days. Learning how to manage your time effectively can help you feel more relaxed, focused and in control. Below are some tips for managing your time effectively.
1. Identify your goals
Setting goals is a key component of time management. Setting daily goals allows you to think about what needs to be done and mentally prepare for each task. Setting daily goals allows you to think about what needs to be done and mentally prepare for each task. Some people find it helpful to make a list of their daily tasks. Lists can bring order to chaos and help you organise what is otherwise overwhelming. Once you have worked out what you need to do, you can then work out short-term and medium-term goals. Setting yourself targets and breaking down bigger projects into small, manageable steps. Actively set your goals by deciding what you need to do, how you are going to do it, and when you need it done by.
Many people find that setting SMART goals helps to keep them on task and on track. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Setting SMART goals provide a sense of direction, motivation and provide a clear focus. Smart goals are:
Specific – this isn’t a detailed list of how you’re going to meet a goal, but it should include an answer to the popular ‘W’ questions – who, what, when and where.
Measurable – this makes a goal more tangible because it provides a way to measure progress. What metrics are you going to use? If it’s a project that’s going to take months to complete, set milestones.
Achievable – this focuses on how important a goal is and what can you do to make it attainable. The goal is meant to inspire motivation, not discourage. Think about how to accomplish the goal and if you have the skills and tools necessary.
Realistic – a goal should be realistically achieved given the available resource and time. Goals should be realistic, but this doesn’t mean that they need to be easy. They should stretch individuals, terms and organisations. They can be demanding but not so much that the chance of success is small.
Timely – a deadline for when the goal will be accomplished is necessary and must be included. It helps to create urgency, prompts action, and focuses the minds of those who are accountable for the completion. Not setting a deadline reduces motivation and urgency.
2. Prioritise wisely
Before you begin your work for the day, prioritise. To-do lists are a great tool, but organise them rather than just writing down everything that needs to get done. Group tasks in terms of importance.
Stephen Covey offered an organisational tool for your to-do list based on how important urgent tasks are:
Important and urgent – tasks that must be done. Do these right away
Important but not urgent – tasks that appear important but upon closer examination aren’t. Decide when to do them.
Urgent but not important – tasks that make the most noise, but when accomplished have little or no lasting value. Delegate these if possible
Not urgent and no important – low-priority tasks that offer the illusion of being busy. Do them later.
Write down your three or four important and urgent tasks that must be addressed today. As you complete each one, check it off your list. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and can motivate you to tackle essential tasks.
3. Use a document management system:
Document management systems is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner. Using document management systems can help employees who work from home and employees in the office share documents. A DMS enables documents to be stored in an electric filing cabinet. Therefore, employees can use documents at the same time from different locations, meaning employees don’t have to come into the office and search for the documents they require. Therefore, saving themselves time, as instead of searching the office for a file which may have been misplaced or another employee is using, the file is available on the document management system for everyone to view.
4. Have a lunch break:
Many employees work through their lunch break; however, this can be counterproductive. Taking at least 30 minutes away from your desk will help you to be more effective in the afternoon. Going for a walk outside, or even exercising will help you to come back to your desk re-energised with a renewed focus. Planning your day with a midday break will help you to break up your work into more manageable chunks.
5. Avoid interruptions:
Interruptions disrupt your workflow. If you are in the middle of a task and stop to do something else, it can be hard to get back into the work flow you were previously in. When you are on a task, try to complete it before starting to do something else. Other things can wait whilst you strive to complete your earlier task. Remember that sometimes disruptions are inevitable. If you receive an urgent call during a task, you should take the call. Do your best to avoid interruptions, but don’t worry over the occasional distraction.
6. Stick to a sleep schedule:
If you want to manage your time, a sleep schedule is vital. A good sleep schedule ensures you’ll wake up early n the morning and be ready for the day. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep for their bodies and mind to function optimally. To maintain a sleep schedule, go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body will adapt to your sleep/wake cycle, leaving you feeling tired at bedtime and energetic in the morning.
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