We get it… you’re busy all the time both at home and at work. But are you making the most of your time? Sometimes we can get so caught up in being busy that we forget that we can maximize our time and get more done in less time. If your biggest problem is managing your time at work, you’re not alone.
Everyone wishes they had more time in their day to get more done. You probably wake up, excited or hopeful about your day and that you’ll meet all your deadlines, hit the gym and make it home in time to cook dinner. Then you hit traffic and arrive at work late, you’ve got meetings all day and you can’t seem to find the time to get your actual work done. Time management at work can be harder than you think, or if you’ve experienced one of those days… then you understand how hard it can be. Whether it’s at work or at home, these tips can apply to your life and help you to become more efficient and feel more control of your time.
Here are 7 Ways You Can Best Manage Your Time at Work:
1. First, Record and See How You’re Actually Spending Your Time.
To better plan your time, you need to figure out how you’re spending it. To start, you should begin to keep track of your daily activities at work. Try logging in your activities in 15 minute increments to make it easier on yourself. An easy way to log this would be on an excel spreadsheet. You could also try apps such as RescueTime, or Toggl where you can get a report on how you’re spending your time.
After a week of doing this you’ll be able to better understand how much you complete at work and see where you need to dedicate more of your time. As you log your time, don’t forget to add in time you’re spending surfing Facebook or online shopping on Amazon so that you can factor in just how much time you’re wasting during your workday as well (don’t worry you don’t have to show your boss this time log!).
2. Create a Routine and Keep With it.
If you’re going to master these time management techniques, then you need a routine you can keep. Starting your day with an organized to-do list will do wonders for you at work. If you create a list at the end of your day on what’s most important for the next day, you’ll thank yourself in the morning. Turning your key tasks that you need to perform daily into habits will make them a regular part of your everyday schedule. With these lists, you’ll be able to get started almost immediately when you get to work. When you have all your tasks listed, you won’t worry about forgetting or stewing about work tasks while you’re at home enjoying your personal life.
3. Prioritize & Organize.
When you’re creating your to-do list for your workday from step 2, make sure you’re prioritizing and adding tasks that are the most important to the top. You can also go through your list and cut any tasks that you don’t need to be doing anyways. When you prioritize your most important tasks and do those first, it can make your day a breeze. You’ll get your toughest tasks out of the way in the morning when you’re the most alert, then the rest of the day you can focus on anything else that needs done.
Complete your most important tasks before starting any others. When creating your to-do list make sure the tasks are in order of most important rather than what’s most urgent. If you’re focusing on what’s urgent, you’re most likely adding to the achievement of someone else’s goals instead of focusing on your own. When you’re focusing on what’s most important, it will add to your own success and goals.
4. Do Similar Tasks Around the Same Time.
Different tasks need different ways of thinking to complete them. Use your to-do list to identify tasks that are similar in nature and get them done around the same time. This will help you to save time and your mental energy by focusing on one aspect of your work before moving on. For instance, answer your emails all in one chunk of time, make phone calls during another and use another to focus on a specific project. Don’t answer emails as they come in unless you absolutely have to as this will distract you from the task you’re currently working on.
5. Try Your Best not to Multitask.
This tip can help you to manage your time at work but it’s definitely the toughest one to master. Block out any distractions that come your way (such as the emails that aren’t important we mentioned before) and turn off any unnecessary notifications. Multitasking can cause you to lose time in your day and will inevitably make you less productive over time. Take each task on your list one at at time to prevent stress.
6. Time Out Tasks and Build in Buffer Time.
While you’re prioritizing your day and creating your to-do list don’t forget to set time limits on your tasks. If you know you have a limited amount of time to complete a task you’ll be more focused and efficient with your time. You can use the log you created during step 1 to plan how long your tasks will each take. As you finish tasks within their allotted time, cross them off of your to-do list so you can see your productivity in action!
Make sure you add in some “buffer time” during your day to take a break. Once you’ve completed a task that needs done, take a break. Whether you need a bathroom break, a visit to the water cooler, or a game of ping-pong… give yourself time to break free from work and relax for a moment.
7. Eliminate Your Distractions.
Our last tip to you would be to get rid of any distractions in your work environment that will inhibit you from being productive.
Distractions can include (but are not limited to):
-Social media & it’s notifications
-Browsing the web
-Talking excessively with coworkers
-Texting others back
-Instant Messenger or a workplace chat (think Slack)
When you’re focused on a specific task, it may be best to close the door to your office if you can to limit any distractions. You’ll be able to engage in these distractions during your “break” time so don’t feel like your day will be all work and no play. When working on your computer, keep only the tab open for the current project you’re working on. Keep your cell phone away from you and turn off the sound on notifications to keep from being distracted. If you’re able to identify what distractions take up the most time in your day, then focus on conquering those first. Then move forward towards conquering the rest of them.
Use these tips to create more time in your work day, and feel more productive, you’ll find that you’ll be less-stressed and have a more enjoyable day at work. Before you know it you’ll have time (and the energy) to hit the gym after work, that happy hour you’ve been eyeing up all week or cook!
Making your workday more enjoyable should be your goal as you WANT to go to work and should ultimately love what you do or at least like it. Stay open to opportunities that come your way and give yourself the time at work to accept new challenges and set new goals for yourself. You’ll be surprised as to where you can go in your career!