Time is gold. We hear the saying all the time, but how does one actually make it gold?
Each of us has a daily grind at work. With a global average range of 29 to 40 working hours per week, an individual approximately works for 8 hours daily in a 5-day workweek. The reality is that it is often not enough to complete the tasks on hand because of contributing factors like new projects, urgent meetings, and personal matters.
Thankfully, there are many ways that can help you in making the most of your workday. It starts with having the time to learn how to improve your time. Some dread talking about it but time management is a key to a happier and more productive streak at work and even in life.
Let’s run down 10 ways on how you can be in charge of your time.
1. Self Check
Think of it as auditing yourself. Do a self-evaluation on how you manage your time at work. Ask yourself these basic questions so you know where your time goes:
- What do you usually do during the first working hour?
- What usually happens on your afternoon shift?
- What are your recurring tasks?
- Who do you usually have to talk to?
- What hinders you from finishing projects?
Be honest with yourself as it’s the first step to time management. Whether jotting down on a notebook or digital note, list how your typical workday happens on an hourly basis. You will be surprised to see which parts you do well and which parts you can improve. Repeat this exercise until you gain a good understanding of how you manage time.
2. Build Goals
Having a goal is certainly important. It is more than a requirement but a necessity to have an objective to work towards. Without it, work will lose focus and get messy. Here are things to reflect to get you started on your goal:
- How can you support the company?
- What requires your immediate attention?
- How much increase are you targeting?
- When do you want to achieve it?
- What resources do you need help with?
Setting a goal is not always easy. Begin by enumerating your priorities at work. By having priorities, you determine the projects need higher attention. It’s best to avoid multitasking as it prolongs the time of completing projects. Talk also with your boss about your goals and priorities then translate them into SMART goals.
3. Plan Ahead
After evaluating yourself and setting goals, you need to do some planning. Create a weekly schedule of your projects and tasks. Ideally, you have to plan for it on the last workday of your work week so that you’re all set for the coming week.
Check how much time every task and project needs and allow buffers. Then plot them according to your priorities. You also have to consider the meetings and activities scheduled for the week so you don’t miss out on anything. In the mid-week, do a quick check-in on your progress and see if you will be able to hit your deadlines.
Doing weekly planning will shape you into becoming a better organizer. Practice your mindset through long-term planning by even planning weeks and months ahead. It may sound like heavy work but it will actually make things much easier for you.
4. Create Routines
It’s time to drill down your daily schedule. Every job role has recurring tasks to do on top of projects, meetings, and activities. When you build a routine for it, you give a kick of ease to everyday work.
You can plan your routine however you like as long as it works for you. It’s favorable to first do the vital tasks like reviewing the previous day’s progress, checking and replying to e-mails, and reading company announcements. Once you get the small and tedious tasks out of the way, you can do other tasks and projects that require more time and effort after.
Create your routine and stick with it. Have a to-do list so you have a visual of your expectations and progress for the day. Finding the routine that suits you can help you in many ways:
- Minimize uncertainty because you know what to do
- Provide clearer thinking because you are not overwhelmed
- Save energy because you work one task at a time
- Improve your focus and attention because you don’t multitask
- Prepare for upcoming tasks because you know your next to-do
5. Gear Yourself
Organization is not everyone’s tea. Especially with tasks and projects piling up, it can be hard to keep up. The good news is that there are tools to aid you. Every tool has unique features that make work more efficient. Enhance your work with these must-have tools:
- Google Suite
These tools are perfect for you or the entire team. A good number of them are free if budget is a concern. Research which tools and features can offer you the best help. You can never go wrong if you prefer keeping a notebook or a calendar.
6. Reduce Distractions
Reality can bring distractions to work. We have all have been there and maybe guilty of causing it too. Commonly, these are office/house noises, colleague gossips, and social media. These can be annoying as they can hamper focus and productivity.
Don’t push yourself hard in getting rid of all distractions at one time. Pick the top 2 distractions that you can first reduce and slowly sort out the others after. You can hone your self-discipline with these tips:
- Keep your workspace organized
- Restrict your phone time
- Turn off unnecessary phone and desktop notifications
- Make use of lunch and coffee breaks
- Establish ground rules at the office/home
7. Take Breaks
As much as we want to get our work done, we need a break. The lack of it is doomed to induce stress. In turn, stress can deter performance. It will not be healthy to put your physical and mental well-being at risk by pouring in many work hours and forgetting to have a break.
That’s why breaks are there for good reasons. They provide you time for a breather to destress and freshen your mind. Observe taking them religiously. Giving yourself rest will boost your productivity once you get back to work. It will also give you more ideas and motivation that can improve the quality of your tasks and projects.
8. Masters Energy
To master time is to master energy. Studies reveal how one’s energy levels can impact performance. According to a Harvard study, energy comes from 4 main wellsprings in human beings:
- Body: Physical energy
- Emotions: Quality energy
- Mind: Focus on energy
- Spirit: Energy of meaning and purpose
The first step is to identity rituals and behaviors that empower your energy levels. Having a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are some ways to strengthen your energy levels. Doing these will make you happier and more motivated to give your best. Take into account also at what times do you feel most productive and peak hours at work so you can focus your energy on them.
9. Set Limits
We can only do so much at work every day. Proper planning and routines help us manage what we have to do. You are setting the priorities and expectations that you need to accomplish in a specific timeframe.
There are times when we are met with additional projects and urgent tasks. Since you know your goals and priorities, assess how these new responsibilities blend into your plan. Focus on the current week’s tasks and schedule the new ones for the succeeding week.
It is important to know your limit so you will not be overwhelmed. You can politely say no to urgent tasks and reschedule as needed. Always discuss your workload and challenges with your boss so both of you understand and can help each other.
10. Delegate Tasks
There are tasks and projects that require an extra pair of hands. You’ll know when they do because they take a lot of time and effort to be completed. You may also need someone else’s expertise to get it done.
If you’re in a team, learn to delegate tasks. Getting help will complete the task faster while not trading off quality. It is a collaborative output that can be better than doing it alone.
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, outsourcing is a great choice. Having a virtual assistant can support you on your business needs. Try how it will amplify your efficiency and resources by having your Yokly VA. Our Yokly representatives will be happy to discuss how we can lessen your burdens for you.
Managing time is a habit that you have to practice and grow. The end goal is to have control and balance at work so you can enjoy personal and family quality time. You don’t have to do it yourself. Have a Yokly VA help you manage your time and improve your productivity.
May our guide help you discover how you can organize your time better!