Categorized | Time Management

Staying On Track – 10 Ways to Maximize Your Time Management

time management

Time management is practically synonymous with self-discipline. If you are unable to avoid all the little distractions that invariably pop up throughout the day, your time management will flop, and your effectiveness will suffer. A big distraction that can keep us unfocused on the task at hand is our own stress. Learning and implementing techniques proven to reduce stress is a great way to start regaining control. It is so easy for us to become stressed out over meeting deadlines.

Sometimes we feel like we’re being pulled in so many directions that all we want to do is… well, nothing. But we’ve still got to get it done, right? Yet when we try to “power through” it, we end up cutting corners and making costly errors. We often focus on trying to complete so many tasks at once that none of them get done. The truth is, this type of manic behavior can be corrected with just the slightest amount of prioritization.

With our tasks laid out in order of importance, we begin to gain a clearer perspective of which actions need to be taken, and in which order. A lack of priorities leads to chaos. We know we’re supposed to be staying busy, so we just work on the first thing that comes to mind. Then we remember something else that needs our attention even more, so we stop the first thing and start the new thing and then something else pulls at us, and needs to be done immediately, and then something else, and then, and then, and…. aaaaghhh!

In addition to knowing what our priorities are, it is equally important that we have a system set in place in order to effectively manage distractions. Having a clear strategy of deflecting potential interruptions can ultimately lead to exponentially greater overall productivity. If you were to add up all the minutes you spent engaging in pointless conversations, answering unimportant telephone calls, surfing the net, and engaging in a whole host of other non-productive tasks during business hours, it would absolutely floor you.

Another productivity killer is over-planning. Some people spend so much time planning their next move that they’ve got no time left to actually make the move. This is a form of “glorified procrastination,” meaning that it feels like you’re being productive because you’re thinking about work, but you’re not actually DOING any work.

Just say no.

It can be incredibly difficult for us to deny another person’s requests. Generally speaking, this is simply out of fear. We’re afraid of letting people down, upsetting them, and being looked at as “the bad guy.” But the truth is, we need to be 10x more concerned with how we are treating ourselves. When you say “yes” to them, you’re really saying “no” to yourself. It’s important to understand this, and to act accordingly.

Organization can truly be your best friend. Work just feels better when everything is nice and tidy. Keeping your workspace clean and clear makes you feel more professional. Additionally, all of your supplies and resources are more quickly and easily accessible, contributing to your overall efficiency. Clutter = wasted time.

Keep your deadlines realistic. Never over-promise and under-deliver. It is so much better, both professionally and psychologically, for you to be honest from the beginning. Know your capabilities, and don’t be overly optimistic. Remember, the time to produce results will always come, so don’t let your mouth write checks that your… how does that go again?

Schedule your communications. It is easy to get caught up in answering phone calls and checking e-mails far more often than we should, and then staying on the phone or responding to our e-mails a lot longer than we should. To remedy this, incorporate these activities into your time management routine. Reserve a half hour (and ONLY a half hour) out of your work day for communications. Schedule it for a specific time and stick to it.

It is important that we finish our most important tasks before moving on to less important ones. I know this sounds simplistic, but it’s really true. Starting an important project, and then putting it on hold in favor of a little escapism can be professional suicide. Work isn’t always fun. That’s life. We’ve got to do it anyway.

To help keep yourself on track, invest in a good activity planner. A good planner can help you keep your priorities straight, and will also reveal some of your bad habits to you. This can have a profound positive effect on your productivity.

Overall, it is a good idea to focus on project completion in favor of project quantity. One thing at a time, from start to finish, is the best policy. Finishing one project before starting another can actually help to boost your confidence going into the new project. It is always better to move onto your next endeavor with a smile on your face, feeling good about yourself.

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