We all know that person who always seems to have things under control. They always seem to get things done on time and even look like they have more time than everyone else. Then we also know of that person who always seems to be caught by surprise. They are always running around and never seem to have deadlines under control. The person seems busier than everyone else even if they are not necessarily the busiest around.
The difference between these two people is time management. Time management is defined as the ability to get things done on time without getting chased down by deadlines. It is the simple ability to organise your activities based on the time available to you such that you get things done in good time. This means that you are in control of your time and as such, you always have enough time for everything, including time for non-work matters.
If you have ever found yourself wondering what you really accomplished at the end of the day to make you feel so tired, it probably means you spent the better part of your day running around and not really accomplishing anything. If you constantly feel exhausted and overwhelmed, you definitely need to reorganise your time.
Here is how you can manage your time better and get everything done. You might even find yourself with some spare time!
Know When Your are Most Productive and Get Things Done
We have all heard people say they are morning or evening people. What they simply mean is that they are most productive at certain times of the day. The reality is that you are most productive in the morning when your brain is fresh and you can think through things clearly. This means that you should carve out the morning to get the most important things done because it will be easier to get them covered when you are fresh. This means that you get to knock out tasks that would otherwise rush you if you push them to later on in the day.
So, if you are struggling with time management, make a checklist of things that you need to do at the end of the day by order of priority and get them done in that order. You will realise that you get things done progressively and you seem to always stay ahead of your schedule. Most importantly, stick to the checklist and only make exceptions when absolutely necessary to avoid devoting time to activities which take up your time and but are not really important.
2. Allocate Time to Each Task
Granted, it may not always be possible to know how much time each task takes but you can work with a rough idea. This will help you determine how to go about your day, such that you do not get distracted by tasks that keep cropping up in the course of the day.
By all means, try and stick to the time allocated for each task to enable you to keep track of your time and avoid using the time allocated to one task to carry out another, as this only leads to poor time management. Proper utilisation of time allocated to each activity will help you stay on track with your activities, which will result in an ability to complete all your tasks on time and even have time to rest.
3. Take Stock of Your Time
If you constantly feel like you are always busy and never really getting anything done, then it probably means that your time is not being spent on things that you should actually be doing. Therefore, you will need to take an active role in determining what activities take up your time so that you are aware of what areas need change.
To do this, create a log where you enter the details of all your activities for the day. Be as detailed as possible and account for every minute by entering the exact activity that you do at any given time. After a week, conduct an analysis of these activities and see which activities take up much of your time and which ones don’t. You will also see those activities which take up your time and are not important.
With this information, you can reorganise your time by eliminating unnecessary activities and reallocating time to those activities which are important to your job. This helps you take control of your time by eliminating those activities that you do not need and managing those activities that are necessary. In the end, you will have more time available to work efficiently.
4. Find Out What You Can Automate
The age of automation is here with us and with it comes lots of conveniences and an ability to eliminate the mundane things that take up so much time. Automation helps you free up your time so that you can focus on things that matter. The general rule is to automate those activities that are repetitive but which are important. Such tasks include making reports, which can be time-consuming, but which you have the ability to automate so that you are left with enough time to attend to other matters that require creativity. Therefore, if you are constantly running out of time to do the things that really matter, you should consider using automation to carve out more time in your day.
5. It is Okay to Say No
Interestingly, time can be spent on doing things that you do not necessarily have to do or which can wait. It may feel like you are not allowed to choose when to say yes and when to say no but this is exactly what makes it hard for you to take control of your time. You do not have to accept every request thrown your way because some of the requests simply take up your time and this will negatively affect your work.
Therefore, whenever a request lands on your desk, assess it and determine how important it is to you. You can choose to turn it down or attend to it later. If it is not urgent and important, do not bother dropping what you are doing to attend to it. Instead, slot it for a time that you are not too busy.
In a nutshell, we all have 24 hours in a day but the difference between those who always seem to have more time and get things done and those who always seem late is in time management. Time management simply involves allocating time to various activities and it is in your best interest to optimise the time you have in your hands if you do not want to always be running around due to deadlines.