Time management — Never leave that ‘till tomorrow which you can do today

We kill it. We save it. We never seem to have enough of it. Time! It is the one thing we can’t control. But we can control the way we use it. The author of the headline quote, Benjamin Franklin, used his wisely and to enormous gain. His biography describes him as a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humourist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

Whilst we won’t all be able to match up to Franklin’s achievements, the use of good time management strategies will help you to achieve more in a shorter period of time. Get it right, and the result is increased productivity, more free time, lower stress, and improved focus.

As we grapple with working during lockdown, time management is even more important. It’s all too easy to while away the hours when you’re outside of your normal working environment.

Here are our top tips for improving your time management, whether in the office or working from home.

Plan your day

Write your plan down, and it’s more likely to happen. That way, you make yourself accountable, so find a system that works for you. Whether you use time management software or jottings on a Post-it, it doesn’t matter as long as it suits you. Top tip — don’t overburden yourself. In general, a maximum of 10 tasks per day is enough. If you start the day with 42 things to do, you will feel overwhelmed.

Prioritise your time

There are many ways to help you prioritise tasks. One is to use an importance versus urgency grid. Prioritise the tasks that fall under the important AND urgent category. Another method is to ‘eat that frog’. Under this technique, you tackle the job you least want to do first. The theory is that you get it out of the way and can stop worrying about it, leaving you free to get on with more enjoyable things. It’s best to work on more strategic tasks that require a lot of focus at the time of day that you personally feel most energised. Interject smaller, easier to complete tasks between the larger ones so that you feel you are making progress.

Set targets

If you build rewards into your targets even better. “I’ll complete my marketing campaign by 11am, and then I’ll have a cup of coffee.”, “I’ll finish my three-year plan by the end of the month, and then I’ll take a week off.” For large tasks like the last example, to manage them effectively, you will need to break them down into chunks to achieve each day.

Try mono-tasking

Remove distractions

There are steps you can take to minimise distractions. Turn notifications off during your workday. Using the airplane mode on your phone is a good way to do this quickly. Set aside a specific period to check your calls, emails or conduct other household tasks. This is known as batch checking and is proven to be more time-efficient than doing so one at a time. Declutter your desk and your immediate environment and consider an investment in noise-cancelling headphones to screen out background noises. If you are at home, you could unplug your doorbell and if expecting a delivery, arrange a safe place with the courier so that you are not disturbed.

Here’s another quote, this time from Steve Jobs. “It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” We can’t expand on the 24 hours we all get given each day. But we can choose how to spend it. The secret to time management is really managing yourself more effectively. If you’ve struggled with time management in the past, why not give our tips a go and let us know how you get on?

Originally published at https://www.proactive.it on June 26, 2020.

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