Possessing strong time management skills is crucial to business success. No matter what line of work a person is in, effective time management skills will be a huge advantage. Those who lag behind in this area are likely to be inefficient and less productive. Read on to discover seven of the best, most useful time management tips.
- Prioritize. The average busy professional is faced with many different duties every day. Each of these responsibilities makes its own demands on your time and attention — but valuing them all equally is impossible. Identifying the tasks that are most important — and then focusing in on them — is always essential. Tackling the really vital stuff first will ensure that, at the very least, the day’s most important project will be completed. Plus, prioritizing one project over others — rather than trying to multitask — is actually more efficient.
- Don’t get bogged down in details. Perfectionism is a common trait among professionals, especially those who perform at a high level. However, it’s important to understand that no task is ever completed absolutely perfectly. Focusing on the most essential, impactful elements of a project — and letting some of the minor, ultimately unimportant details go — is the wisest approach. Pushing steadily onwards is the only way to be truly productive.
- Protect your time. The typical coworker may not value your time as greatly as you do. While some office communication is obviously crucial, much is also pointless. Setting strict boundaries and learning to fend off colleagues who are simply looking to chat or otherwise waste time is crucial. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with cutting short a discussion that serves no critical purpose.
- Track time usage. Keeping detailed track of a day or a week’s activities is a great method for identifying inefficiencies and time-wasting behaviors. While tracking every minute of the day shouldn’t be a permanent habit, on a limited scale it can be a good way to determine which actions or habits are valuable and worthwhile — and which are only holding you back. This will help you hone in on your strengths and core abilities.
- Avoid distractions. In the modern office, ever-present computers and smart phones offer a myriad of entrancing distractions, all readily accessible in just a few clicks. While there’s nothing wrong with a few short, strictly controlled breaks spread out over the course of the day, anything more can seriously hamper productivity. Resisting the urge to binge on social media or other web distractions is critical to managing time effectively. Even ignoring email for an hour or so is often smart. If possible, turning off the computer and/or the phone can also be a great idea.
- Say ‘no’. Most business professionals — especially those who are competent and skilled — will face frequent requests to join teams, take on new projects, and provide input. While such opportunities are good, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. A person who is overwhelmed by an excess of responsibilities won’t be able to handle any of them well. The goal should be to take on only a reasonable workload. Learning how to stand firm and politely decline requests is key.
- Create (and follow!) a plan. An organized, detailed plan can be an invaluable tool in the quest for productivity. One great approach is to prepare a plan for the day each morning. This plan will serve as a guide for the day’s work, keeping you on track and focused — though with the bigger picture also in mind. Of course, sometimes unforeseen circumstances will get in the way — but, most days don’t offer any major surprises. A plan will also help you remember any impending deadlines or scheduled meetings.
Those who are not innately skilled at time management shouldn’t fret — there’s actually hardly anyone who is naturally capable of managing time effectively. Those who are best at the skill have become so through dedicated application of the methods that improve time management abilities — such as the seven described above.Print this article