Managing time efficiently is key for people in the modern business world. However, many people struggle to evaluate their time and prioritize tasks. If you approach time management in a methodical way, you will find that you can squeeze far more into your workday with far less stress.
Step One: Know How You Spend Your Time
Tracking your time for even a few days can lead to surprising and edifying results. Maybe you spend more time on social media than necessary while in the office; maybe you are spending a great deal of time in tasks that can easily be delegated. Are you one of the majority of social media users who spends over three hours a day on Facebook and similar sites? Before you begin truly evaluating your time, it is important to establish a baseline. Spend a few days tracking all of your workday tasks. Simply write down everything you do and the minutes or hours spent doing it. This will allow you to see exactly how you spend your time and where you can improve.
Step Two: Assemble Your Tools
According to a study from Mobile Technology Product, time management can be improved by 38% simply by using the correct tools. The tools that meet your needs will depend on your lifestyle. Popular tools include calendars on your smartphone or computer and traditional paper planners. In addition, many also use lists or notes as physical reminders. You will need a way to quickly see which tasks need done immediately, which can wait, and which are simply not important.
Step Three: Write Down Everything that Needs Done
At this point, you are not prioritizing. You are simply listing every task, from large to small, that you will need to do in the recent future to achieve your workplace goals. Creating a document, regardless of its form, with all that you need to accomplish is your first step to better time management.
Step Four: Prioritize Tasks
The next step is to choose the tasks that are most important. These tasks are mandatory ones that must happen or your life will be thrown into chaos: important meetings, work deadlines, etc. Then you choose tasks that should happen in the near future but aren’t crucial. Last, you should be left with things that, while perhaps important, are not incredibly time-dependent and are not key to your job.
There are several ways to prioritize tasks. Some people underline the crucial ones, others use color coding. It doesn’t matter how you do this as long as you end up with a list that reflects everything you need to do and which of these tasks are a greater priority.
Step Five: Fill in Your Calendar
Now you are to the last step, which is perhaps the most important one. Whatever the type of calendar or scheduling device you use, it is time to pull it out and fill in your goals. Schedule your tasks in order of priority, from most to least crucial. Defer or delegate what you can to open up more time for important tasks. When you are done with this step, you should have a basic schedule or calendar that you can refer to and use as a tool to ensure that you are spending your time in productive ways that enrich your life.
Time management and task prioritization are crucial skills. However, they are generally not taught directly. People who take the time to develop a system for time management accomplish a great deal more in their workdays and even in their lives. Learning how to manage your time correctly will allow you to be more productive, more successful, and less stressed.